Summit Health executives see positive future

Summit Health president and CEO Patrick O’Donnell updated stakeholders on the present status and future plans of the major Franklin County healthcare provider. The annual meeting was held last Tuesday. The safety and well-being of patients remained the top focus.

Summit Health president and CEO Patrick O'Donnell and vice president and chief financial officer Kimberly Rzomp visited Waynesboro and Chambersburg hospitals on Nov. 25. They brought good news and plans to meet challenges at the annual meeting for the boards of directors, senior management and public.

“The speed of change and uncertainty of the past 12 months, even three months, surpassed that of last year,” said O'Donnell, something he could not have forecast. Nevertheless, the future was bright.

“We are headed in the right direction. Summit Health should remain independent, which is not typical for community hospitals.”

Franklin County's major healthcare provider had admitted 14,000 patients to the hospitals, accommodated 342,000 visits to physicians, delivered 1,750 babies, performed 14,500 surgeries, handled 77,600 emergency department visits and performed 1.3 million lab tests in the past year.

Patient approval was climbing for the hospitals.

“Waynesboro traditionally has very high patient satisfaction,” O'Donnell said.

“Chambersburg Hospital is now reaching extremely high levels.”

The two have received awards for excellence in patient care, and achievements in stroke and heart attack outcomes.

In an effort to remain financially strong, Summit Health exceeded a goal to reduce expenses by two percent, and will continue to strive for that through 2018. It had been through a year of the Affordable Care Act, and was geared to see more ramifications.

“We have yet to see a dramatic change in people's coverage,” Rzomp said. “We expect to see it, along with less payment. We have to stay ahead of that.”

On the political scene, both officers would be watching the national and state scenes. The last election had left a level of uncertainty, O'Donnell said, and while ACA would not likely be repealed, parts of it could change. In Pennsylvania, the rollout of Gov. Tom Corbett's Healthy PA in January was up in the air, since he was booted out of the top seat. That initiative had raised Medicaid eligibility from 100 percent to 130 percent of the poverty level.

Revenue in 2013-14 had been nearly $437 million, down $2.7 million from the previous year. O'Donnell attributed that to fewer hospital admissions in lieu of observations, and fewer emergency department visits and lab tests. Expenses, meanwhile, had climbed $13 million to $405 million. There were jumps in salaries and wages, depreciation and amortization, professional services, and interest expense.

“As a whole, we had good revenue,” he affirmed.

Summit Health was expanding with the construction of a medical office in Waynesboro, to house specialty practices, family medicine and walk-in care. An urgent care opened in Shippensburg, another was under construction at Norland Avenue and Walker Road in Chambersburg, and one was being considered for Greencastle.