PLATTSBURGH - After a tumultuous fiscal year, CVPH Medical Center ended 2008 with a net gain of approximately $1.5 million.
"It's a very slim margin," said CVPH chief financial officer Joyce Rafferty. "For an organization of our size and complexity, to try to operate with margins that tight, it's nearly impossible."
While there is reason to celebrate, it appears as if CVPH isn't out of the woods yet.
The $3.5 billion in cuts to the healthcare industry recently proposed by Gov. David A. Paterson in the new state budget could further provide a challenge for CVPH and other healthcare facilities across the state. In figures Rafferty has received from the Healthcare Association of New York State - an organization which represents and advocates for hospitals within the state - the governor's budget cuts would mean a $996,000 loss in revenue for the medical center, and another $1.2 million for its skilled nursing facility.
"It's so hard to tell how much of this will actually pan out," Rafferty said of the governor's proposed cuts, "but, it is definitely concerning."
The hospital's board of directors recently approved the administration's $249 million operating budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year, said Rafferty, adding the budget cuts "would certainly take a chunk out of the bottom lines that we have proposed."
"It was a little tenuous not knowing what the state and federal level budget cuts will be for us," Rafferty said. "Those unknowns going into a new budget process are always a bit of a worry."
When preparing its budgets, the hospital utilizes a "conservative estimate" of what funding could be cut in the coming year, said Rafferty. In the 2009-10 budget, the administration assumed there would be no increase in Medicaid revenues, which is equivalent to approximately $500,000, she said.
The additional $2.2 million in cuts came as a surprise, and it wasn't a welcome one.
"That's certainly a larger number than what we had planned," Rafferty said of the amount.
If the cuts are approved, the hospital administration would have to examine how it would make up for the shortfall, she added.
"We'll certainly have to look at any services we provide that operate at a loss and see if we'll be able to continue to do that," said Rafferty.
Services such as free community health screenings and examinations would be among the items that could face the chopping block, she said.
The governor's proposed budget cuts aren't set in stone, however. The proposal still needs to be acted on by the state Senate and Assembly, which has a deadline of April 1.