Psychiatric hospital in red again

February 10, 1994|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Sun Staff Writer

Taylor Manor Hospital, a private psychiatric hospital in Ellicott City, lost money in its most recent fiscal year, its fourth straight annual loss, despite a slight increase in admissions.

But Howard County General Hospital posted a net profit increase of $465,900 in its most recent fiscal year, according to an annual report issued yesterday by the state's Health Services Cost Review Commission, which regulates hospital charges throughout Maryland.

According to the report, Taylor Manor posted a net loss of $694,400 for the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 1992, even though it admitted 38 more patients that year for a total of 900.

The reason for the loss: shorter, less-profitable stays in the hospital at a time when Taylor Manor's operating costs increased slightly, said Dr. Bruce Taylor, the hospital's director.

"Our hospital, like any other hospital, has experienced growth in admissions, patients and referrals, but those patient stays are shorter term," Dr. Taylor said.

He noted that an adult inpatient now spends an average of 15 days at Taylor Manor.

For teen and geriatric inpatients, the average is 35 days.

Five years ago, by contrast, "patients might stay weeks, months, to a year" in the hospital, he said. "There are now very few long-term patients."

As a result, the number of "equivalent inpatient days," a measure of the amount of time patients actually spend in the hospital, dropped from 37,223 for the 1989 fiscal year to 23,504 for the 1992 fiscal year, the most recent figures available.

The hospital has been trying to counter its losses. Last year, for example, it laid off 25 workers.

The hospital also began intensive but less costly day programs for teen patients, such as an adolescent partial-hospitalization program in which troubled youngsters receive therapy during the day but go home at night.

"There have been changes in our operating costs. They've adjusted over time to keep pace with patients," said Dr. Taylor, adding, "We're not doing as well as we would like."

Howard County General Hospital, on the other hand, continues to post significant profit gains. The 223-bed hospital reported $1.67 million in net profits for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1993, an increase of $465,900 over the previous year.

"Hospital admission has steadily increased but occupancy has gone down," said Carl Humphreys, senior vice president of finance for the hospital.

He said the shorter, less-profitable patient stays have been offset by more outpatient business, greater use of the emergency room and a growth in such services as radiology.

He said the profits will continue, "as long as volume grows and the hospital is able to reduce its costs."

According to the state report, occupancy rates at the hospital decreased for the fourth year in a row, with nearly 64 percent of all beds in use for the year ending June 30, 1993, compared with 67 percent the previous year. The hospital's occupancy rate is in line with the national average.

The hospital also outpaced the statewide average for cost per admission. Howard County General increased its cost by 10 percent, compared with a statewide average of 9.61 percent.

Mr. Humphreys attributed the cost increase to the hospital's purchase of a magnetic resonance imager, a sophisticated device that generates images of the body's organs.

The machine's $1 million cost was passed along to patients in the year ending June, 30 1993, Mr. Humphreys said.

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