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CAMC may cut programs, services to meet budget goal

Gazette-Mail file photo
Charleston Area Medical Center’s board is looking at budget cuts to free up money for improvements to hospitals such as General Division, shown here.

Charleston Area Medical Center may cut hospital services and programs in order to meet a goal of $20 million in profit for the year, hospital CEO Dave Ramsey said after CAMC’s regular board meeting Wednesday. Ramsey said officials are going through the hospital system looking for ways to cut costs.

The hospital has had a hiring freeze on nonclinical staff since Jan. 1, Ramsey said.

CAMC officials are “seriously looking at the possibility of eliminating some programs and services,” Ramsey said.

He did not specify what programs may be on the chopping block. Ramsey said with West Virginia’s continued population decline, there aren’t enough people to support some of the programs. He blamed the state’s struggling economy for the hospital’s budget problems.

“Unless the economy of the state turns around, it’s just an ongoing process, unfortunately,” Ramsey said. “We’re impacted no differently than the state is with the lack of growth in the population, lack of economic growth, continued unemployment and so forth.

“[It] impacts, really, every business throughout certainly this region, if not the whole state,” Ramsey said.

CAMC is a nonprofit hospital, meaning that any profit it makes is reinvested into the hospital.

Previously, board members were presented with a budget that had the hospital breaking even for the upcoming budget year, but the board asked for a rewrite that showed a $20 million profit to be used for improvements.

“If we don’t have a bottom line, we don’t have the ability to replace equipment within the organization,” Ramsey said. “And due to inflation, if we have a zero bottom line this year, next year would be even worse if we don’t take any action to improve our expenses. And eventually, if we continue down that path, you’re basically bankrupt at that point.”

Ramsey said that at this time, the hospital has no plans to lay off employees.

In other business, the hospital has hired a new chief financial officer, Jeff Sandene. Sandene replaces Larry Hudson, who retired at the end of the year after about 17 years as CFO. Sandene starts Monday.

Sandene, originally from South Dakota, worked in various roles for Sanford Health for 12 years, he said.

The CAMC Foundation recently purchased the former Ronald McDonald House in Kanawha City and plans to open a hospital hospitality house, Gail Pitchford, CAMC Foundation president, told the board.

The foundation bought the house from the Ronald McDonald House for $300,000, Pitchford said after the meeting. Ronald McDonald House recently moved from the Kanawha City location to a new $3.5 million structure on Pennsylvania Avenue, within walking distance of CAMC Women and Children’s Hospital.

The hospitality house is similar to a Ronald McDonald House in that it offers families a place to stay for a low price while their loved ones are in the hospital, Pitchford said. The hospitality house is for the families of adult patients, rather than children, she said. Fundraising efforts will help sustain the house, Pitchford said.

Pitchford said the facility needs renovations, including new paint and flooring. The foundation aims to open the hospitality house by late spring or early fall, she said.

Reach Lori Kersey at lori.kersey@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-1240 or follow @LoriKerseyWV on Twitter.

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