The UNM Health and Sciences Committee convened Tuesday morning, as regents listened to administrative and system reports followed by discussions about financial situations, quality conditions in the hospital and marketing efforts.
HSC Chancellor Paul Roth, with other University officials, went over the numbers pertaining to the recent release of a state audit, the full-time equivalency management strategies for next year and the continuation of improving quality care for patients.
State Audit Response
Roth said HSC administrators were very pleased that all numbers provided by HSC and issues up to this point were verified by state auditor, Tim Keller.
Lovell said they were also pleased to work with Keller and there will be transparency audits rolled out to the rest of the state soon.
According to the FTE management strategies 2016-2017 report by Lovell for UNM Medical Group, reduction in full-time employees is being achieved by not filling new positions (if not essential to fulfill key strategic initiatives) and by evaluating each vacated position to assess if the position is necessary, could be postponed or if duties of the position can be assumed by other employees.
According to the same report, UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center will work to implement that the number of employees be narrowed through attrition, and not by slashing existing staff.
Executive approval by UNMH officials will be mandatory for posting open hospital mission critical positions, and the Strategic Resource Committee will go over each vacant employee and physician positions, filling only those that are mission critical.
Quality and Efficiency
The Continuous Quality Improvement group has been working to reduce high risk occurrences which are directly related to central line infections, urinary tract infections, ventilator associated pneumonias, mortality, readmissions and falls.
Discharges have grown five percent overall with an increase for pediatrics and for adult care, but a decrease in obstetrics. The amount of time a patient stays in the hospital decreased by two percent compared to last year.
Clinic visits have also gone down, which is mainly a function of revenue cycle input delays.
Emergency room visits increased, obstetrics activity decreased and surgeries stayed the same. Total operating expenses increased by five percent, and uncompensated care increasing by fourteen percent as well.
Although the Lobo Quality Improvement Process has positively progressed compared to national trends, UNMH’s quality rate is relatively low. Percentage results are from HSC data, midnight census and patient surveys.
“We’ll save your life, but you may not like how we do it,” said Committee Chair and UNM Regent Marron Lee.
HSC COO Steve McKernan reassured the regents and committee that HSC administration knows exactly what drives these low scores. Since so many patients begin in the emergency department, experiences consist of long wait times, high volumes of noise and not enough space for patients and their families.
“While we believe that some things like much better communications with patients will help, we certainly won’t be able to move into the top quartile performance,” McKernan said. “There’s going to be some restraints that we’re just not going to address. We will be able to create some improvement through our community activities.”
According to McKernan and Richards, community activities include staying focused on the mil levy. UNM is continuing meetings seeking help from Bernalillo and Sandoval County for support of healthcare programs at UNMH.
Meetings now involve the Indian Health Services and the All Pueblo Council of Governors.
Marketing Costs and Advertising
HSC Communications and Marketing reduced marketing costs by an estimated $27,333 between Sept. 4 and Oct. 28 this year. This includes advertisements in the Albuquerque Journal and special sections during Fall Wellness, the State Fair and the Balloon Fiesta.
Roth said this kind of advertising is in the category of community communication, citing that UNMH is a trauma and stroke center.
“Given our financial situation, we’re gonna be markedly cutting back on advertising for the rest of the year,” Roth said. “We have to get the executive team together to look at exactly what the rest of the year will look like, but we will not be seeing these kinds of numbers.”
Lee reminded Roth that they have discussed criticism towards him about the hospital and HSC not getting as much advertising attention as other areas on campus.
“My concern is that we’re paying a lot of money for marketing. It is one UNM — we should be leveraging those,” Lee said. “I’ve been seeing a lot of ads; even though I know it’s UNM, it doesn’t seem to be part of the whole package.”
Lee voiced concerns about the current budget, comparing it to the financial situations at other hospitals, and added that there does not seem to be an understanding that money for the whole campus is very limited right now.
“You’re absolutely right, except for one point,” Roth said in response, “we do not want to compete with the private sectors.”
Roth said HSC is working diligently in trying to create positive partnerships with Presbyterian, Lovelace and all private sectors in that regard.
“Your uniqueness is not your level one trauma hospital, that’s because you are a public institution,” Lee said. “You’re the teaching hospital. You’re the hospital that brings the students from main to us — that’s your uniqueness.”
Sarah Trujillo is a news reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @sarahtweets_abq.