Bay Medical Center Faces Tough Times

By: Sandra Osborne Email
By: Sandra Osborne Email

Panama City- Bay Medical Center’s CEO, Steve Johnson is facing the same problems faced by most heads of multi-million dollar organizations…poor finances.

In Bay Medical's case, Johnson says the hospital's biggest problem is treating uninsured patients who can't pay the bill.

"We've got a situation where our uncompensated care has grown about 11 million dollars in 2001 to 33 million dollars now. That’s a 300 percent increase since 2001.”

Couple that with a bad economy, and changes in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, and you can understand why Bay Medical Center is struggling financially.

In an effort to control the crisis, the hospital's board of trustees is looking for someone to refinance the hospital's debts.

"The uncompensated care trend is not a sustainable business model that we cannot not address. We have to be dealing with that along with the issues around Medicaid and issues around health reform. So I think taking action is appropriate," said Johnson.

The board has contacted a number of healthcare management companies like Sacred Heart to discuss refinancing possibilities.

Johnson insists the hospital is not for sale.

When asked if a refinancing deal would mean a change in the hospital's management structure, Johnson says it's too early in the process to determine those type of details, but he does says once a deal is in place, you and other patients will see very few changes.

"At the end of the day, it will be transparent. We've got this beautiful new facility. We've got great staff. We've got great doctors. I can assure you that it would be totally transparent whatever happens."

When they began planning and building the new 80 million dollar patient tower facility, the economy was booming.
If he had known then what type of economic environment he'd be facing today, Johnson says the hospital probably would have delayed the tower project."

The bigger issue is the changes in the hospital's Medicaid reimbursement.

"Effective July of next year we'll have a new reimbursement system under Medicaid that's probably going to cost us another seven figures in reimbursement cuts," Johnson said.

Despite Republican promises to repeal the Obama Healthcare Reform Bill, Johnson isn't confident that will take place.

Even though there is a lot of uncertainty regarding the effects of these future changes, Johnson says the hospital's current debt is a certainty, and needs to be addressed sooner than later.

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  • by Anonymous on Jun 15, 2011 at 10:25 AM
    No, I do not feel that I should get Free medical care. But when you do not have health insurance beacuse you must choose that or food, then you get sick and are billed $4,000 just to see the er doc...then they wonder why people don't pay their bill. I have a total of a 15,000 er visit for a stomach virus... Get real!
  • by Curious Location: Bay County on Dec 17, 2010 at 01:58 PM
    Someone in a administrative position got fired for not being a phlebotomist? Really? That's reaching a new low.
  • by Old Man Location: Panama City on Dec 15, 2010 at 08:01 PM
    Panama City better wake up! If you don't want pay cuts, or to be broke, than I would not vote for anyone that is involved with BMC management or the Board of the hospital, Who would want someone for mayor that only knows one thing, and that is how to take what should not be theirs especially since they did not work for it!!!
  • by Old Man Location: Panama city on Dec 15, 2010 at 07:48 PM
    I think that it is interesting that BMC has never told the truth to the Public sector or it's Employee's! They just froze pensions for a little over 200 employees! These are the same employees that were here long before Steve Johnson or most of the upper management,These same emplyees were the ones that went with out alot of things from pay raises to cuts in benifits so that BMC could continue to operate! Now they "BMC" have froze their pension plans,on channel 7 they stated that this would not affect the employees benifits! Well,in reality all emplyees involved will lose money from their retirement checks!Example would be after 30 years of service to BMC an employee could expect to get approx 3,000 dollors each month-but now that same employee will only get approx 1,600 dollars each month,So you can see where no benefits were lost like BMC stated, BMC could care less about it's long term employees! And this was done right before Christmas!Remember who to not vote for mayor of P.C.!!!
  • by "voluntarily" retired employee Location: Bay County on Dec 15, 2010 at 06:48 PM
    Bay Medical was a great place to work and continues to have a great staff. I was "voluntarily" retired as a result of Morgan's first round of pension cuts. Johnson and Morgan have repeated this indigent care and reimbursment rhetoric excuse too long. STOP the PR, abstract lies, deception and spin. You have wasted 100's of thousands of dollars based on your decisions and stratagies. The staff can point them out but are under threat of loosing their jobs. I lived it. Stop covering your mistakes and shortcomings by robbing the employees of their benefits, pensions and jobs. It comes down to this, YOU are responsible for the current financial condition of that institution, and YOU HAVE FAILED. Why aren't Morgan and Johnson held accountable?
  • by Annonymous Location: Panama City on Dec 15, 2010 at 02:31 PM
    Come on people! If you lost your job because you do not want to do what is expected, why are you blaming others? The entire US in economic failure right now. Why is it we are persecuting the people that are trying to make this hospital stand and deliver good healthcare(mostly free). Yes-job decsriptions can change but that is with any job. Yes-layoffs happen, like everywhere else. Yes-if you get fired for refusing do what is expected, it is your fault and only your fault. The directors and upper management are working diligently everyday and night trying to hold on to their employees and still give excellent care to the community. Everyone must start learning that we have to worker harder than ever and be useful and loyal to keep our jobs, otherwise you are replacable. As for director are awesome and deserve the position you are in. Everyone knows that within the Bay Family. Keep your head held high. Don't let the downers bring you down with them.
  • by Anonymous Location: Bay County on Dec 15, 2010 at 07:07 AM
    So a gunman wanted to shoot the school board members over his wife allegedly being fired...BMC has been firing people left and right...
  • by Loyal BMC employees Location: panama city on Dec 14, 2010 at 05:08 PM
    Lets review the FACTS. While Mr Johnson and Mr Morgan struggled to finance and justify their beautiful new building, employees permanently suffered the following cuts to benefits to cover their multiple finacial blunders. Manadatory shortened work week for 3 months,lost 8 days vacation,Reduced carry over vacation time, 10% pay cuts with some staff reduced from salary to hourly resulting in another 3 days vacation loss,loss of pension benefits forcing aprox 55 staff to retire early, Loss of ability to sell back unused vacation time at 75% and most recently 250 of BMC's longest term staff had their pentions permanently frozen. While Johnson & Morgan along with 7 more administrators- Took no pay cuts. According to records still recieve in excess of $1,200 house allowance, $1000 car allowance and a $300,000 plus salary. After leaving BMC in financial ruin, they will collect full salary and benefits for an additional year. Unsure of bonuses, someone should inquire. Where are the trustees??
  • by PCB Resident Location: PCB on Dec 13, 2010 at 08:32 PM
    Just a little clarification: First, neither Gulf Coast or Bay Medical can turn away anyone suffering from a medical emergency or in active labor. It is called the EMTALA law. Both hospitals are required to provide a emergency medical screening exam. Secondly, how is BMC broke? I can't figure it out. They own the only ambulance service. They take you to their hospital if you don't speak up. It's so bad Gulf Coast had to advertise, what was it..."Ask your paramedic to take you to Gulf Coast Medical Center." I have a friend who works for EMS he told me they do not call the helicopter for trauma patients because the helicopter will only transport the patient to a trauma a center. Bay Medical is not a trauma center. Think about it. If they call the helicopter for a trauma they lose money. Sounds like a conflict of interest. I was told they have not called a helicopter to the scene in the last two years. Come on Bay County think about it.
  • by Mary Location: Callaway on Dec 13, 2010 at 09:42 AM
    Taxpayer - Did you ever once consider that the man has a camera in his face and knows he will be on television in front of thousands of people. Or wouldn't that make you nervous?
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