Any notion health care and hospitals somehow are “recession proof” – immune from today’s economic malaise – has been proved a myth once again. We find ourselves shoulder to shoulder with every business, every family, that struggles to endure these extraordinary times.
After three very good years of fiscal health, NorthBay Healthcare finds itself in a “perfect storm.” Plummeting markets (both stocks and capital), erosion of consumer confidence and the U.S. economic contraction present a great challenge. People are postponing their health care, skipping a test or treatment, and even declining to fill a prescription because of the co-pay or the out-of-pocket deductible.
Add to that the uncertainty of Medicaid spending and the pledge of major healthcare reform by President Obama. Then mix in California’s budget quagmire.
That is more than enough to keep a healthcare executive up at night.
Ours is a unique dilemma because we fill a unique role in Solano County. We provide health care to all those who come to us, regardless of their ability to pay. That means three of every four patients are uninsured – or underinsured – and do not pay us what it costs to provide them care.
How do we survive? We become more strategic, more responsive to the community. We fill the gaps in local health care that no one else will fill.
That’s why the timing is perfect for opening the NorthBay Heart & Vascular Center, featured in this issue of Wellspring. We now are the one and only provider of advanced cardiac care in Solano County.
It’s great news for 1,400 local heart patients who must travel elsewhere each year. It’s good news for NorthBay because we can serve patients who have had to go out of the county for such advanced care.
In 2008, half of the U.S. healthcare providers had year-end budget deficits. But despite challenging circumstances, punctuated by the declining value of our investments, NorthBay Healthcare still had a positive finish to 2008. A very modest profit can be re-invested in programs like open-heart surgery and other advanced medicine.
Nearing the midyear point, our fiscal situation remains challenging. But we are confident we will achieve the goals we have set for 2009, especially with the great staff we have.
Speaking of a great staff, I hope you will enjoy our special report in this issue on the scores of NorthBay employees who extend compassionate care far beyond the walls of our hospitals.
And thank you for your support.
President and Chief Executive Officer