NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

December 8, 2012

Newburyport hospital ends year $2.3 million in black

BY DYKE HENDRICKSON
STAFF WRITER

---- — NEWBURYPORT — Most large organizations assess their performances at the end of a year, and officials of Anna Jaques Hospital are concluding 2012 with satisfaction.

The hospital, the largest employer in the area with 1,000 employees (730 full-time), concluded its seventh consecutive year in the black with a $2.3 million in profit, institution leaders say. It serves 17 communities on the North Shore and southern New Hampshire, and has about 250 physicians affiliated with its range of services.

The hospital recently completed a five-year capital campaign that raised more than $6.5 million from the community to support $15.8 million in projects.

“We’ve had a good year, and appreciate the community support on a number of our projects,” said Delia O’Connor, president and CEO of the 123-bed facility. “The hospital is dedicated to quality care and patient satisfaction.”

Major projects included an 18-bed all private unit for medical and surgical patients.

It replaced an aging power plant with its Zampell power plant (named for the family) that officials say saves 15 percent in energy.

It also produced a renovated outpatient entrance to allow patients easy access in and out of the hospital within attractive surroundings.

One challenge the hospital is facing is the changing financial environment of the health-care system.

Massachusetts hospitals aren’t responding to “Obamacare” as much as they are reacting to the state’s own health-reform regimen, considered the most progressive in the country.

Though close to 98 percent of state residents have health insurance, medical officials are finding that many citizens are under-insured.

“Deductibles for many patients are higher than they expected,” said Mark Goldstein, executive vice president and chief financial officer. “We have to write off close to $5 million in unpaid bills.

“Since this is a business that runs on a margin of 1 to 2 percent, we are always looking at costs.”

Hospital officials say another challenge is dealing with lower Medicare reimbursements and, subsequently, doing everything possible to remain competitive.

The hospital is offering more services, for instance. It has partnered with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston to provide access to Harvard-affiliated teaching-hospital specialists.

Areas of interaction between the two organizations include maternal care, gynecology and oncology, emergency department transfers and gastroenterology.

In 2013, Anna Jaques leaders plan to offer a “second opinion service” with BIDMC for oncology patients. Also, it will open a Breast Care Center.

“The hospital is expanding in many areas, including women’s health,” said O’Connor. “We have a midwifery program, and we’re adding programs to support women in oncology and gynecology.

“We want people in our area to see our facility as one that can provide great care to them. There might be times when they might be referred to BIDMC and its specialists, but we are working to demonstrate that Anna Jaques offers high value at reasonable cost.”

David LeFlamme, vice chair of the board of trustees at the hospital, said, “Patients are smart and they will compare services. And they are going to see what their policies are covering.

“We know there can be a difference, for instance, in the cost of colonoscopies even in a given family; one institution might offer a less expensive program. We believe we are a hospital where people can turn for excellent care.”

Anna Jaques has been named a Tier 1 hospital, which in industry lingo means that major insurance carriers certify that it has the capability to “consistently deliver high-quality care at a lower cost.”

In 2012, it was named one of the market’s “Top 10 Best Places to Work” by The Boston Business Journal.

Hospital leaders say one of their major goals is to continue to create a community hospital and physician network “to keep our community patients receiving care in our community.”