Schneider Hospital Board OKs CFO's $199K contract


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ST. THOMAS - At its first meeting of 2014 on Wednesday night, the Schneider Hospital Board discussed a number of topics and got updates on a medley of ongoing issues.

The board received notice that they need to re-examine the proposed 2014 budget, that they are in compliance with their storage of medical waste, and that the hospital still is trying to figure out the best approach to a joint venture with dialysis treatment company DaVita.

Budget

Chief Financial Officer Fred Vitello presented a financial report to the board the same evening that his $199,000-per-year contract was approved in executive session Wednesday and he no longer is the interim CFO.

Vitello, who signed a five-year contract, is filling the position formerly held by Eugene Welsh, who no longer is with the hospital.

Vitello advised the board to hold off on approving the Fiscal Year 2014 budget so it can be revised for the second half of the fiscal year.

"It wasn't tied to statistics," Vitello said, noting that expenses - namely salaries in several of the surgical departments - were too high during the first few months of the fiscal year.

"I wanted a more specific budget," he said.

The budget that Vitello discussed at Wednesday's meeting, though the board voted to not approve it until more data-driven numbers are offered, has an estimated $78.7 million in projected revenue for FY 2014, which is a $4.7 million increase over the revenue during FY 2013.

The projected expenses for FY 2014 was $104.3 million, an approximate increase of about $7.8 million in expenses compared with the FY 2013 budget.

Hemodialysis

DaVita and Schneider are continuing to pursue a joint venture, despite the fact that DaVita has been named in litigation following deadly heart attacks in at least one of its clinics.

The hospital has become incapable of meeting dialysis needs on St. Thomas and has been seeking a private partner to help stop a revenue loss of $2 million annually from the dialysis unit, according to the hospital's chief executive officer, Bernard Wheatley.

The hospital's legal counsel and the Health Commissioner Darice Plaskett are expected to negotiate the joint venture, and any opposition that accompanies it.

CIGNA

Following the implementation of adjusted rates to Schneider's charge master, which is its comprehensive listing of items billable to a patient, CIGNA filed a claim for approximately $1,050,000.

CIGNA, a health services corporation, said that it had overpaid the hospital for inpatient and out-patient transactions from Oct. 1, 2011, to March 31, 2013.

However, Wheatley said CIGNA has agreed to negotiate forgiving the overpayment in exchange for the hospital giving CIGNA a 30 percent discount on services and a 4 percent charge master pass-through.

Energy

The hospital is expected to receive a portion of $24 million to be used for various energy conservation measures or renewable energy generation measures. The money is part of an agreement between the Governor's Office, Schneider and Luis hospitals and the V.I. Energy Office.

The funding comes through the Public Finance Authority, which received $35 million for energy related projects through the Federal Energy Management Program and funded by the Bond Authority.

Of the total amount, the remaining $11 million was earmarked for schools in the territory.

Schneider is expected to undergo an energy audit to be completed by May.

By fall, the hospital would begin to undergo improvements, specifically to its boilers and generators, Wheatley said.

Personnel issues

- The hospital currently is in search of a vice president of facilities management, a position formerly held by Karen Hodge, who was reassigned as director of facilities.

- An executive search also is under way for a vice president of quality and performance improvement and a chief operating officer.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email jkane@dailynews.vi.

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