Sept. 17-30, 2004
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Medical Center budget healthy, operating board told
Civil engineering professor drives for safer highways
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Engineer envisions vehicles of the future


Medical Center budget healthy, operating board told

By Fariss Samarrai

The Medical Center produced a 2003-2004 operating margin of 5.4 percent, surpassing the 5 percent goal set by the Board of Visitors. At the Medical Center Operating Board’s first meeting of the fiscal and academic year on Sept. 2, chief financial officer Larry Fitzgerald reported that the operating margin — the difference between the expenses to operate the center and the revenue earned from services rendered — was nearly half a percentage point better than the longer-term annual goal set by the board nearly two years ago.

This is the second year in a row that the Medical Center has exceeded the board’s expectations, and, according to Fitzgerald, the margin is among the top 10 percent for academic medical centers.

Fitzgerald noted that July, the first month of the new fiscal year, “started on the same foot,” indicating that the Medical Center is on its way toward another fiscally sound year with a comfortable operating margin.

The center’s expenses for the fiscal year totaled nearly $664 million and the net revenue was more than $701 million. All income from the nonprofit Medical Center, the 5.4 percent margin, is reinvested in the center for buying new equipment, maintaining equipment, renovations of facilities and paying debts.

Fitzgerald also reported that the Medical Center reached its “high-water mark” on hospital admissions, with nearly 36,000 patients admitted during the year, 3 percent above the previous year. The hospital is able to admit more patients than in earlier years because of an increased number of beds and improvements in the processes that allow for the care of more patients.

R. Edward Howell, vice president and chief executive officer of the Medical Center, noted that the U.Va. Hospital is ranked among the top 100 in the nation and is on the “leading edge” in the use of new technologies. He said a current limitation to the center’s growth is a lack of physical space for the increasing demand for care and services, but that the administration is working on increasing infrastructure.

He also noted that the hospital faces increasing challenges as more patients are uninsured or underinsured and are unable to pay their medical bills. This is a nationwide trend that is affecting the finances of hospitals across the country. The Medical Center routinely budgets for lost income from bad debt, but these write-offs continue to increase each year.

The board also endorsed, at the recommendation of the Medical Center administration, changing the name of the Children’s Medical Center to the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital. The new name, based on market studies, is more distinctive and consistent with industry standards.

Following the meeting, some board members toured the newly renovated Medical Center East Cafeteria, which opened July 5.


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