TGH plan estimates challenged

February 11, 2003 11:00 pm
Tuolumne general Hospital's Chief Financial Officer Kent Johnson speaks during a county supervisors' meeting. (Amy Alonzo/Copyright 2003, The Union Democrat).
Tuolumne general Hospital's Chief Financial Officer Kent Johnson speaks during a county supervisors' meeting. (Amy Alonzo/Copyright 2003, The Union Democrat).

By ABBY SOUZA

Although the Tuolumne General Hospital recovery plan offers ideas, county staff members still have a lot of questions.

For example, there's a discrepancy between what hospital administrators say the financially-ailing hospital will need and what county officials figure.

In the recovery plan laid out for the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors yesterday, hospital Administrator Barry Woerman said his proposed program changes will bring in $1.9 million by the end of the next fiscal year. Even so, the hospital will still be short $1 million.

However, one of the county's money officials challenged his assessment.

"I professionally disagree with the numbers presented to you today," Assistant County Auditor-Controller Deborah Russell told the board.

Using her own calculations, Russell said the hospital will be short $2.5 million instead of $1 million. Russell provided the board with a five-page summery of her calculations.

In order for the hospital to be short $1 million, it would have to collect $2 million more in the next four and a half months than it did all of last year — which she said she doesn't see happening.

Woerman's plans for fixing TGH's money problems include making the Visiting Nurses Association its own county-funded program, adding beds to long-term care, administrative job cuts and other restructuring.

TGH has borrowed almost $6 million from the county in the last five years, has had nearly $11 million in county general fund cash infusions in the same period of time, and continues to run in the red every month.

What's not in Woerman's plan is a deadline for accomplishing these goals.

County Administrative Officer C. Brent Wallace recommended several actions the board should take to ensure the plan is effective.

First, Wallace said in his written recommendations, the hospital needs to provide more information on how the plan will work, establish a deadline for implementing the plan and set aside meeting time each month to discuss how the plan is working.