Hospital ends fiscal year with profit, and a moment without turmoil
The Martha's Vineyard Hospital ended its fiscal year on March 31 in the black. That was the good news delivered to the trustees, who met Saturday.
In January, faced with a worsening economy and the loss last spring of orthopedic surgeon Rocco Monto to Nantucket Hospital, the Island hospital had braced for a loss. And while the hospital had projected a profit of $735,000, it ended the year with a profit of $635,000, according to Tim Walsh, the hospital chief executive. Mr. Walsh told The Times yesterday that the improved financial picture was due in part to the addition of Dr. Willie J. Cater, the new orthopedic surgeon.
Mr. Walsh also told the board that the Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, which is owned by the hospital but operates as a separate entity and follows a calendar year, had a strong first quarter. Windemere ended its fiscal year ended on Dec. 31, 2008, with an operating gain of $41,805.
In a telephone call Monday from his West Tisbury home, John Ferguson, chairman of the Island hospital board, expressed satisfaction with the good news. "This hospital is doing great," said Mr. Ferguson, who is also CEO and president of Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. "Especially when you look at hospitals across the country. In New Jersey, there have been a lot of bankruptcies. This hospital is in very good financial shape."
In April 2008, Dr. Monto ended his full-time private practice and joined the staff of the Nantucket Cottage Hospital, where he had worked for eight years while maintaining an office in West Tisbury. The Vineyard hospital hired Dr. Cater to fill that niche and provide elective procedures. Dr. Cater, a famed Northeastern University sprinter in his youth and an orthopedic surgeon on the staff at Carney Hospital in Boston, began work on January 1.
Mr. Ferguson said the departure of Dr. Monto took some business out of the hospital, and that affected the bottom line. "It doesn't take much to change things, because it is a small place," Mr. Ferguson said.
Mr. Ferguson said the board had an opportunity after its meeting to tour the new hospital building under construction next to the existing hospital. "It is gorgeous," he said. "The board members were impressed with the spaciousness." The building remains on schedule to open in January.
In other business, the trustees approved replacement status for Dr. Richard Koehler. Under that status the former Island hospital surgeon will be able to fill in for one of the two staff surgeons. Dr. Koehler resigned from the hospital medical staff seven years ago in a swirl of controversy during a very public battle with the hospital administration.
Dr. Koehler, who specializes in laparoscopic surgery and operates at Jordan Hospital in Plymouth, has been pressing the Island hospital leadership for full medical staff privileges (see MV Times, Feb. 5, 2009 "Former hospital surgeon seeks privileges, cries foul"). Without staff privileges, Dr. Koehler cannot admit patients or use hospital operating suites for his private practice patients.