Home health, hospice cut ties with TGH

June 25, 2003 11:00 pm

By ABBY SOUZA

The Visiting Nurses Association and Hospice program is officially out from under Tuolumne General Hospital's umbrella.

With a unanimous vote, the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors at Tuesday's meeting allowed VNA-Hospice to operate with its its own enterprise fund.

This means both TGH and VNA will now have separate accounts with the county. Enterprise Funds programs differ from others because they are expected to be self sufficient.

This separation is one of the 10 steps in the hospital's recovery plan.

The plan is supposed to help TGH out of its dire financial state by either increasing revenue or cutting costs. The hospital has borrowed more than $5 million from the county and received $11 million in cash infusions over the past six years.

The hospital is losing about $180,000 a year in Medicare reimbursements because of its connection with VNA, TGH Administrator Barry Woerman said in a memo to the board.

The recovery plan, written in February and approved by the board in March, says TGH will save at least $150,000 in this separation through financial allocation adjustments.

Besides a letter to both the state and federal governments letting them know of the change, there isn't much work on TGH's part to make the separation happen.

Although Woerman will still oversee VNA, day-to-day responsibilities will be in VNA Director Sara Herrin's hands.

At a recent TGH board of trustees meeting, she thanked the trustees and hospital administrative staff members for their help and guidance in the past.

"This is a huge venture and a scary venture," Herrin said.

Herrin said she considered the separation a "win-win" situation and said there are no hard feelings between TGH and VNA.

The board's decision to make VNA its own enterprise fund will go into effect Tuesday, the beginning of the fiscal year.