Plenty of good news comes out of Bristol Hospital’s annual meeting

Kurt Barwis, CEO and president of Bristol Hospital, speaks at the recent annual meeting of corporators.

Kurt Barwis, CEO and president of Bristol Hospital, speaks at the recent annual meeting of corporators.

By LISA CAPOBIANCO
STAFF WRITER
 Bristol Hospital, the fiscal year 2014 marked a successful year, as it saw an excess of revenue of $2,312,710.
During its Annual Corporators Meeting held last Wednesday at the Double Tree, Bristol Hospital reflected on its yearly financial statements, highlighting a number of its achievements emerged last year.
Marie O’Brien, past chairman of Bristol Hospital Board of Directors, said the board was surprised that despite cuts made by the state and federal government, the hospital was still able to end the year with a higher excess of revenue than in fiscal year 2013.
“We were surprised by the unexpected cuts by the state and federal government…but we have an aggressive plan of growth,” said O’Brien, noting the importance of the annual meeting as a community event.
“You have to grow into those cuts and you’re blessed with a board that supports that,” said Kurt Barwis, president and CEO of Bristol Hospital, adding the focus was on community needs instead of worrying about cuts.
Calling the financial report positive, Mark Blum, chairman of the finance committee, said total expenses in 2014 grew by $10.6 million in comparison to last year. Despite a decline in the number of medical/surgical admissions (5, 319 in 2013 to 5,079 in 2014), the hospital saw an increase in the number of births at the hosptal. In 2014, Bristol Hospital had 649 births compared to 569 in 2013. The hospital also experienced a slight increase in emergency room visits to 38,812 and a slight increase in outpatient visits last year.
“All in all…it was a successful year,” said Blum during his presentation.
O’Brien said 2014 will be known more for its year of healthcare politics than its healthcare policy. Although Texas based-Tenet Healthcare Corp. decided to withdraw its application in acquiring five Connecticut hospitals in December including Bristol Hospital, the local institution still appreciated the time Tenet spent dealing with the regulations set forth by the state.
“We acknowledge the insightful contributions Tenet executives made to our hospital, and in fact all Connecticut hospitals,” said O’Brien. “We are a small community hospital with a big heart, a big purpose, and a big work ethic.”
“Nothing has changed about how we feel about Tenet,” added Barwis.
Despite the sudden change in plans to become a for-profit entity, Bristol Hospital has continued its partnership with Yale-New Haven Hospital. O’Brien said Tenet contributed a great deal to teaching Connecticut about the hospital landscape.
“We can deliver more responsive and high quality care the best specialized and comprehensive medical treatments, and top-notch physicians and nurses who create a team approach to even greater and easier access to that care for our patients,” said O’Brien.
During the meeting, Barwis noted how the hospital began a journey in 2013 to establish a High Reliability Organization, which is a culture and methodology that radically reduces failures and catastrophic events. In 2014, the hospital saw a decreased number of serious safety events, which went down to eight, compared to 42 in 2013.
This year, Bristol Hospital will continue this methodology by implementing a safety coach program and a patient identification program called “Safety Absolute.”
“You can see how strongly downward that is sloping,” said Barwis, indicating a chart on a projection screen. “It takes a whole organization, it takes a cultural change.”
Meanwhile, the annual meeting called for celebration, as the new Bristol Hospital corporators and its slate of officers were introduced and the new Bristol Hospital and Health Care Group, Inc. elected new directors. In addition, former city councilor and former mayor of Bristol John Leone, Jr. received recognition as the new chairman of the hospital’s Board of Directors, taking over for O’Brien.
First elected as a hospital corporator in 1994, O’Brien became chairperson of the board in 2012, but will continue her service on the board despite stepping down from her most recent role.
A former police officer and former president of the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce, Leone recognized Bristol Hospital’s story from the past, and the role in the Bristol community today.
“Today, 93 years later, we have a wonderful leadership,” said Leone. “Our hospital has been there for every type of disaster…it is the first place our city and our residents turn to when there’s a tragedy that strikes.”