NORTH ADAMS - Northern Berkshire Healthcare officials will concentrate on the organization's forthcoming affiliation with Berkshire Health Systems, following an operating gain of $3 million in fiscal 2012.
The organization reported a gain of $3 million on revenues of $68 million for its fiscal year ending on Sept. 30, 2012, just three months after emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring proceedings, according to officials.
"This has been a whirlwind year for us, as we went through the Chapter 11 process," Chief Financial Officer Christopher Hickey said Tuesday. "On June 1, we emerged from those proceedings in a reorganized state with a significant reduction in our long-term debt. The organization made about $3 million in revenues in fiscal 2012, but because of the significant [$4.1 million] costs of restructuring, we posted a net loss of $1.2 million. The good news is we're moving forward with a debt service that is about a third of what it used to be before we filed Chapter 11."
Northern Berkshire Healthcare is the parent company of North Adams Regional Hospital, the Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice of Northern Berkshire, Northern Berkshire Healthcare Physicians Group and REACH for Community Health. It has 575 employees and an annual payroll of more than $30 million.
Dr. Arthur Turton, outgoing chairman of NBH Board of Trustees, said the board will now refocus its energy on formulating its strategic plans for the organization.
"Over the next two months we'll be going through the process of developing that plan, which will be the vision for the next five years," he said. "We've already gone through the process of identifying Berkshire Health Systems as our principal partner and in the past year have already entered into agreements for physician services and services in other areas. We also encouraged their partnership with Williamstown Medical Associates.
Turton said there are many advantages in affiliating with Berkshire Health Systems, the parent company of Berkshire Medical Center, especially in a time when new health care reform laws are coming online.
"The whole payment system in our country is changing," he said. "We will no longer be paid for the number of work units, but for achieving quality outcomes and lowering costs. There are incentives to being part of an 'accountable care organization.' To make this work financially, hospitals will need to have a very large patient base. Our 40,000 patients, nor the 75,000 patients in Berkshire County are enough. It will require a patient base of 100,000 or more to make it work, so all small hospitals and even hospitals the size of BMC and Baystate Medical Center will need to affiliate with larger organizations."
Other advantages will include streamlined administrative processes and access to services such as physician recruitment. "We'll be able to provide better access to primary care and specialty physicians, although not all of those services may be within these walls," Turton said.
CEO and President Timothy Jones said the new internal focus of the organization is on four goals: Safety, flow (how patients move through the organization and the speed at which they are seen), engagement (patient satisfaction and interactions between staff and patients) and cost.
"Revenue growth is not our challenge as we move forward," he said. "We have opportunities to grow through our niche services, such as our Wound Care Center and through our opportunities of affiliations and partnerships to manage health care in the region."
The challenge, he said, lies in implementing a "lean strategy" which focuses on eliminating wasteful practices and costs and focusing on improving the quality of care.
"Safety is our number one priority," he said. "We can become the safest hospital in Massachusetts. That's our goal. We can do this by focusing on our process and becoming the best. When we focus on these goals and become better year after year, we won't have to talk about revenue."