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BRCH still committed to build hospital at FAU Hospital


BRCH still committed to build hospital at FAU Hospital

From the Boca Raton News

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$75 million firm

Published June 17th, 2008

By Dale M. King and John Johnston

Boca Raton Community Hospital still has a dream – an expectation of building a massive new hospital on the Florida Atlantic University campus – a facility that would work hand-in-glove with the budding physician training program at FAU.

But reality has taken a swipe at that dream, putting the $600-plus million facility on the sidelines while BRCH deals with the day-to-day operations that last year ran up a hospital operating debt of $42 million – and cost former CEO Gary Strack his job.

Richard Schmidt has a unique perspective on the hospital’s situation.  He is head of the Schmidt Foundation, which has promised a $75 million donation to the new hospital – which will be named the Charles E. Schmidt Medical Center in honor of the family patriarch.

The younger Schmidt is also chairman of the hospital board, and is aware of the difficulties of operating a hospital in a medical climate where too few people are coming in for care and too many of those who do so are then walking out without paying.

Still Committed

“The [Schmidt] Foundation is still committed to the new medical center,” Richard Schmidt recently told the Boca Raton News.  It all depends on what hospital officials decide is best in the long run. But he emphasized that “when the hospital is ready to go, the Foundation is right behind it.”

Right now, the hospital is trying to salve its financial wounds, Boca Hospital CEO Rick Van Lith told the Boca Raton News. “We are going back to the basics,” he said. “We are adapting to external issues.”

As to the new medical center, he said, “It’s on hold. I’m not even going to dwell on that.”

He said the hospital is making progress in cutting into the major loss announced in January.  “Internally, we have gotten a consultant and have adopted a new process for billing and collecting.  This will be a big improvement,” he said.

Also, he said, for about 18 months, the hospital was dealing with a number of nursing vacancies – and as a result, had to hire “agency nurses” which cost considerably more than staff workers. “We no longer have agency nurses,” he said.

Van Lith said the hospital hired about 100 nurses last year to replace the agency nurses whose pay cost the hospital about $8 million. There are still just over 30 vacancies to fill – and he hopes that can be done soon.

Still, both Van Lith and Schmidt said the hospital will again lose money this year.  “This situation didn’t happen overnight,” said Schmidt. “It won’t be solved overnight.”

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