Despite some struggle, Bristol Hospital reports year of success

By LISA CAPOBIANCO
STAFF WRITER
Despite the financial struggle community hospitals have faced throughout Connecticut, Bristol Hospital had a successful year in 2015.
During its annual meeting recently held at the DoubleTree, Bristol Hospital, Inc. reported that in 2015, total expenditures were $138,845,547, with a revenue increasing expenditures by a little more than $1.3 million.
Although the hospital saw a slight drop in medical/surgical admissions and surgical and endoscopy procedures last year, the nonprofit saw an increase of emergency room visits and outpatient visits.
“We saw continuing improvement in patients’ satisfaction and wait times,” said Douglas Devnew, who serves on the finance committee of the Bristol Hospital & Health Care Group, Inc.
The hospital also succeeded in reducing expenses, and did so by $6 million, reported Devnew.
For Bristol Hospital and Health Care Group, Inc., its revenue in 2015 also exceeded expenditures by a little more than $1 million. Last year, Bristol Hospital and Health Care Group, Inc. had total expenditures of $175,856,047.
In 2015, Bristol Hospital Multi-Specialty Group, Inc. had 110,006 physician visits, which has increased over the past few years.
“The network continues to bring in the best physicians and expand the services we provide to the community,” said Devnew.
Devnew added that Ingraham Manor has experienced a “tremendous turnaround” over the past year. In 2015, Ingraham Manor saw more admissions, and an increase in patient days compared to the year before.
During the president’s of the medical staff report, Dr. Bala Shanmugam said Bristol Hospital has become “much stronger” since the time that he began working there in 2008.
Shanmugam said the hospital is growing as an institution, as healthcare continues to change. Between recruiting a number of new doctors and specialists and adding new service lines, such as the wound care center, the bariatric program, and the new Beekley Center for Breast Health and Wellness, the hospital has added a variety of services to patients.
Shanmugam added the biggest improvement at the hospital has emerged on the quality side of things. He noted positive changes in the attitudes of the hospital community and the increase in inpatient satisfaction scores.
“We’re a much stronger institution than we were,” said Shanmugam, adding that the hospital also is financially stronger. “We’ve done an excellent job and… we’ve come a long way.”
Kurt Barwis, president and CEO of Bristol Hospital, said the hospital has extraordinary clinical operations. He noted a performance reporting summary indicating that Bristol Hospital has significantly outperformed national benchmarks in different areas, such as falls and trauma as well as ventilator associated events.
From 2012 to 2015, Bristol Hospital also experienced a 97 percent decrease in the number of serious safety events. Last year, the hospital reported two safety events.
“It’s not just the process, it’s a culture—people willing and wanting to speak up when something goes wrong,” said Barwis. “When you create a culture that’s very special, great things happen.”
During his presentation, Barwis said one of the unique things about Bristol Hospital is its participation in the Rural J1 Visa Waiver program. Because the city of Bristol is designated as a health professional shortage and a medically underserved area, the hospital is eligible to participate in this program, which has recruited over a dozen physicians since 2008.
“We’ve recruited… some of the best and brightest physicians,” said Barwis, adding the hospital has an excellent immigration attorney.
Another program Barwis noted that has achieved success is the weight loss surgery program, which was recognized as an Aetna Institute of Quality. Since 2010, the surgical volume for this program has increased, with 164 cases reported last year. During the Walk From Obesity event last September, Bristol Hospital was ranked eighth highest nationwide for raising funds, said Barwis.
Reflecting on 2015, Barwis noted a number of highlights that happened at Bristol Hospital, such as the Magnet recognition granted by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Bristol Hospital is the only hospital in Hartford County to receive Magnet recognition, which is the highest an organization can receive for nursing care.
Last May, Bristol Hospital opened its new Center for Orthopedic Spine Health, housed in an 8,000 square foot outpatient center to offer different orthopedic specialties under one roof. Last spring, the hospital launched the Robotic Surgery Program with the purchase of the da Vinci Xi Surgical System, which has been used for over 100 robotic surgeries.
In July, the hospital announced that it earned The Joint Commission’s Gold seal of Approval and Certification for the Hip and Knee Joint Replacement Program
Bristol Hospital also received recognitions in other areas, including lung cancer screening, breast cancer care, and LGBT healthcare equity.
As chairman of the hospital’s Board of Directors, John Leone, Jr. also reflected back on 2015, which he called a roller coaster ride of ups and downs. Although Tenet Healthcare Corp. abandoned its plan to acquire Bristol Hospital, Leone noted how the Board of Directors, along with Barwis and his team, created an action plan to continue growing the non-profit. The end result was a recruitment of new doctors and services.
“We continue to provide some of the best healthcare outcomes in New England,” said Leone.
Last spring also brought a new challenge to the hospital with the governor’s proposed state budget. Bristol Hospital has faced a loss of $2.6 million from the state budget after a legislative special session. Under Connecticut’s hospital tax, Bristol Hospital was initially expected to lose at least $7.5 million this fiscal year.
In response to the loss of funding, the hospital formed a campaign last year to encourage the community to support the nonprofit. The hospital team expressed concern to state legislators, and 46,000 e-mails were sent from people of all walks of life to federal and state leaders as part of the Protect Bristol Hospital and Stop the Cuts to Bristol Hospital advocacy campaigns.
Hospital officials also recently spoke with Majority House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, who took a tour of the nonprofit.
“We need our legislative leadership in the state to come together and work through a process that understands the values of our hospital…and provide a more sustainable level of funding, which can provide stability from year to year,” said Leone, adding every local legislator showed support for the hospital.
Last December, Bristol Hospital submitted a letter of intent to the city to build a 100,000 square foot medical office building on the corners of Riverside Avenue and Main Street, which will be taxable property. The hospital plans to combine its medical offices that are leased throughout Bristol and other towns into the medical office building downtown, which will not require any public financing.
Barwis said the consolidation of medical offices in the new medical office building downtown will create a better experience for the patients, and will bring more jobs to Bristol.
“It’s going to increase a lot of jobs,” said Barwis, adding how the hospital has interviewed new urologists. “It makes a difference that that building becomes a part of our future.”
Leone thanked city leaders for supporting Bristol Hospital’s proposed downtown project that involves the construction of a new medical office complex.
“This hopefully will be a cornerstone building for a vibrant downtown,” said Leone. Bristol_logo_NEW