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Palo Verde Valley Blythe/Quartzsite Times | Blythe, California and Quartzsite, Arizona

home : latest news : regional February 5, 2016

1/22/2013 5:33:00 PM
Drop in patients and surgeries pushes hospital to financial brink
Download the surgery graph
Download the surgery graph

Marty Bachman

BLYTHE - Palo Verde Hospital CEO Peter Klune told the Healthcare District Board that a lack of patients and surgeries at the hospital was draining its finances and that unless they contracted with a surgical group that could provide more services than are currently being offered, the hospital would face serious financial implications.

Speaking to the board at their Jan. 16 meeting, Klune said that patient census at the hospital had dropped from 16 a day to 11 in the last three years, a 30 percent drop, and that inpatient and outpatient surgery are down almost 50 percent during that same period of time.

"The finances of this hospital are directly related to the volume of patients we see," Klune said. " In this hospital the two biggest entities we have are patient census and surgical volume."

Klune said that the hospital has lost a considerable amount of business due to AB109 realignment, which has reduced the prison population, which provided a large chunk of the hospital's profits. A prison hospital that will open in July in Stockton is expected to cut back business even more.

"What does that mean? Klune asked. "That means this is not going to get better. This is our new reality; our new reality is times have changed. We're no longer a 15 bed hospital, we're a 10-bed hospital, and we're no longer a hospital that does 150 surgeries a month. We're now doing 70-80 surgeries a month. Almost half of what we were. Why is this important? It's not important, it's critical. Surgery is where we make our profit....Surgery is where this hospital makes money."

Klune said that the hospital has been unable to recruit specialty doctors because of its notoriety.

"The results I contribute to geography," he said, "but also, all you have to do is Google it, I'm sorry, the reputation of this facility and this medical staff."

He said that the past board had been working to overcome these problems and that contracting with a medical or surgical group that would bring in surgical specialists was the answer to providing more surgeries and increasing the patient count, thus keeping the hospital open.

In November, the outgoing board voted to send out requests for proposals (RFP) in an attempt to find a surgical group to take over surgeries at the hospital but was met with a lawsuit filed by the medical staff, which resulted in a judge issuing a temporary restraining order preventing them from entering into a contract. The case is ongoing.

Board member Sandy Hudson had a proposal to rescind the RFPs on the meeting agenda but that item was tabled to the next meeting, which will be a special meeting held Tuesday (Jan. 22) at 5 p.m. at the Palo Verde Irrigation District Board Room, 180 W. 14th Ave. Klune's future as CEO with the hospital is also on the agenda as is the rescinding of the RFPs for exclusive transportation contracts.

Klune said that if the board were to suspend administration efforts toward seeking a surgery group, the hospital would not have the means to develop a surgery program as needed to replace the lost volume and avoid further financial turmoil.

Klune asked that the board hold a special meeting with management so they could have a better understanding of the critical nature of the hospital situation.

"We're losing money every month," he said. "We're in the middle of our busy season and it's not so busy."

The hospital's chief financial officer, Dennis Rutherford, repeated Klune's warning, stating that the hospital's financial outlook is not good.

Rutherford said that budgetary pressure from the state has lowered reimbursements and that the hospital was getting both less money and less volume.

"It's the perfect storm," he said. "It's not coming back."

He said that the hospital had $4.6 million on the books as of last November but that revenue continues to spiral downward. He said that the hospital had a 12.2 percent reduction in revenue, a $1.3 million reduction in net patient revenue on a year to date basis as compared to the prior year.

"It's important that we get beyond these beefs and we work with the medical staff on this because we need their help to achieve these goals," he said. "We won't make it without their help.."

Rutherford said that by the end of the fiscal year, June 30, the hospital would have only $650,000.

Download the Jan. 22 Palo Verde Healthcare District Board special meeting agenda

Related Stories:
• Emergency transport helicopters to be banned from landing at hospital
• TIMES EDITORIAL: District Attorney Paul Zellberbach owes Blythe more than an apology
• Medical Staff drops lawsuit against hospital board
• Healthcare District Board votes 3-2 to fire CEO Peter Klune
• Fired hospital chief had proposed basing helicopter at hospital prior to dismissal
• TIMES EDITORIAL: Palo Verde Hospital needs to be privatized
• TIMES EDITORIAL: Medical staff needs to take responsibility for failing grade
• TIMES EDITORIAL: Let's get bids on hospital services and then make a decision
• Medical staff seeks to restrain Healthcare District Board from contracting out surgical services
• Healthcare District files lawsuit against hospital surgeon, Hossain Sahlolbei

Related Links:
• Healthcare District Board authorizes CEO to issue RFPs to contract out transportation and surgical s
• Former DA warns board members of potential conflicts
• Hospital Board voids meeting citing Brown Act violations

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Article comment by: WWhat the

Why change where the meetings ar being held unless its to confuse people who might show up, another ploy by mz.sandy to confuse citizens of Blythe that are watching the schelobi circus.

Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Article comment by: Blythe Are you for Real

The new Board is in having a hissy fit about two EXCLUSIVE CONTACTS and no one seems to care that FRAUD may have been committed by on of the Doctors.

Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Article comment by: @ what do you fear

What people fear is that our 3 day a week, 477k dollar a year CEO will in fact hire a surgical group without running it by the board. The past board on their way out gave the power to the CEO to hire and fire. It is obvious that the man is not getting the job done and we do not need him making anymore decisions for us. You have to love that he will talk to the friendly newspaper but stonewalls the board and the public when questions are asked.

Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Article comment by: just me @ another just me

That would be a good start,Hudson and Sartin would love that..If Klune would do that,the Mec could really be able to keep their on call pay that they don't respond to...Incident in the ER (deleted) So on call DR.really need that 1000 aday pay.

Site Administrator's note: A portion of this comment has been removed because it violated our Terms of use Agreement.

Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Article comment by: All EYES

On Sam Burton!

Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Article comment by: just another me

Maybe Mr clune should take a pay cut on his bonus if the financial status in the hospital is hurting

Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Article comment by: PVH Not Good ?? ?

This is the front page news? Well I had no idea the prison made up the biggest chunk of money (sarcasm) We had the misfortune last week of having a family member taken to PVH as there was little choice at the time After several hours of "tests" the dr. flew them to a Plm Sprngs Hospital. Thousands of $$$ spent to have DRMC comment why PVH would have made the diagnosis they did and question why they weren't able to handle the situation on their own as it should be something most dr.'s should be able to do. What's already known is that inmates always had better care and didn't have to foot the bill. Now we wil have to pay for 2 hospitals, ambulance plane and tax $ for the inmates.

Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Article comment by: What do you FEAR

You have taken up two Board meetings focused around these exclusive contracts for Surgery and Transportation.
This is only a study to see if an Exclusive Surgery and/or Exclusive Transport Contract would provide this community with enhanced services!
When completed the Board has to approve making a change to these exclusive contracts. SO whats the HURRY?
Why not find out?

Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Article comment by: Enquiring Minds

@ C. Dekens, We also reside in this valley and we're offended by the way you, the Robinson's, (deleted), etc. want to force sub-par medical practitioners on us because of the way Major PARS throws his money around at local events! We are only victims if we allow ourselves to be, and many of us have chosen not to let you folks make us so. We have witnessed the volitile tantrums of Major PARS in person and there is absolutely no way we're going to let him get anywhere near us with a sharp object in his hand (nor a dull one, for that matter). If you think creating a political environment that supports embracing the current surgical department is going to bail the hospital out of its financial doldrums, you've been spending too much time hanging at the medical marijuana dispensary!

Site Administrator's note: A portion of this comment has been removed because it violated our Terms of use Agreement.

Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Article comment by: Time Passes

Have you forgotten your grandson?

Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Article comment by: Tom Franklin

Interesting the article is all about money and not patient care. The hospital has become a political football using incompetent players on both sides. I would never send any of my family there for even a cut on a finger, let alone surgery of any kind. It's the third WORST HOSPITAL in the COUNTRY and that places everyone who goes there in danger. Need a good doctor or medical treatment?? Drive to Parker or Palm Desert and do not risk your life in Blythe!

Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Article comment by: Arm Twisting

Someone must of gotten to Sam Burton. He tabled these two items last week. I am sure he will go along with Hudson and Sartin (conflict on Transport issue) and pass it this time. That is his MO table it to make it look like he has not already made up his mind then pass at the next meeting.
To Caroline I know why you have switched your tune!

Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Article comment by: Carolyn Dekens

The hospital has been losing money every month for the past two years according to the financials presented by the CFO at last week's meeting, but the current management didn't come up with the scheme to contract out surgical services and award an exclusive transport contract until they saw that the board election was not trending in their favor. They then proceeded to call special meetings to pass their agenda at the eleventh hour- contrary to what they knew the public wanted. They also knew that when the new board took office, the financials would come under scrutiny therefore the new bylaws to stop any inquiry by board members into administration's operations of the hospital- this in direct conflict to the purpose of establishing a board to protect the community by giving us checks and balances. It's time for the people of this valley to stand up and be counted- do you or do you not want a viable hospital in our valley. Please attend tomorrow night's meeting and be heard.

Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Article comment by: just me

Well how much more clear can it be.Transporting patients, plane or rotor now of course those that want to help line Trina's pocket will want to fly.I think the conflict of interest needs to be cleared first.again it's something to her benefit not patient care.Another issue Hudson and Sartin want Klune out the door so they can be for sure her plane will be used.And they will YES everything the Dr wants.How much sense is it to fire Klune and still pay him for a year.Along with paying another ceo.Sandy, maybe you can help out by returning the 10 grand you bought fair animals with.You said you had the ability to bring money back to the hospital.Now looks like the perfect time to get that ability in first gear and do itI I.Will go first class on a helicopter thank you.

Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Article comment by: EL PICA BUYAS

Is it because of greed or out of stubbornness, that these people will let the hospital hit rock bottom. I could see if they were fighting for the people of Blythe. Like for better care, new equipment to help the patients. But all I see is a power struggle on who will be the Top dog. If these people cared about Blythe and it's citizens we would not have this chaos surrounding the hospital. The City should file chapter 11 on behalf of the hospital. That way it could then clean house. It should be run like a business that is there to help the people of this community with the best medical care at it's disposal. Not a personal piggy bank to a selected few. If it will close down, then close it now to save money.

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