The Veterans Affairs Department has awarded two contracts totaling $41.5 million to create a polytrauma center for the care of severely injured veterans and to improve existing wards at the Audie L. Murphy VA Medical Center in San Antonio. One award for $37.2 million will be used for the construction of a three-story, 84,000-square foot polytrauma center that will include physical medicine, rehabilitation services, prosthetics service and research. The term “polytrauma” refers to healthcare for veterans who have more than one severe, life-threatening medical problem. These patients are usually recent combat veterans who were injured by roadside bombs and other explosives in Iraq and Afghanistan, the VA said. The second contract, for $4.3 million, will provide for upgrades and expansion to ward 4-A of the medical center.
Six-hospital Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare said it is eliminating 500 full-time-equivalent positions out of a workforce of 8,100 full-time equivalents, a 6% reduction that includes 250 layoffs. The system’s hospitals and other facilities have experienced a volume decline of 3% to 7% since the start of the year, depending on the volume measure used, said Janice James, the system’s transition CEO and a managing director at Wellspring Partners, which is part of Huron Consulting Group. The declines are across the board and appear to be related to the weak economy rather than a loss of market share, James said. “Physicians that I’m talking to say their office activity is down, too,” she said. “It’s not isolated to us.” The system implemented $55 million in other cost reductions in 2009 by changing supplier assignments, revamping benefits and making process improvements, said James, who is leading the system while it searches for a replacement for Bob Shircliff, who announced his retirement last year. The system posted an operating loss of $6.6 million in 2009 compared with a $2 million operating gain in 2008, on operating revenue of $1.01 billion, up 5% from 2008, according to its unaudited 2009 financial statement. Overall, thanks to a rebound in its investment earnings from a $70.6 million loss in 2008 to a $15 million gain in 2009, the system recorded net income of nearly $8 million compared with a loss of $78.7 million in 2008, according to the financial statement. The cost of uncompensated care, including both charity care and bad-debt expense, increased from $52 million in 2008 to $68 million in 2009, according to the system’s layoff announcement.
OLIVE BRANCH, Miss.—
One potential opponent of plans to build a hospital in Olive Branch has withdrawn its letter against the proposed project. In November 2009, 40-bed Alliance HealthCare System, Holly Springs, Miss., submitted a letter opposing a 100-bed hospital in Olive Branch proposed by three-hospital Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, Memphis, Tenn. Alliance’s concerns with the project have been alleviated, so it is