CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston Area Medical Center lost $4.2 million in operational income in January, after the Elk River chemical leak and abnormally low temperatures cut into hospital admissions, the hospital's chief financial officer said Wednesday.
"January was an unusual month, in case you hadn't noticed," Larry Hudson told the hospital's board. "We had several events that affected our revenue stream for the month.
"We had two polar vortexes and water contamination issues, so we had these major events that resulted in fewer admissions, fewer outpatient visits, a longer length of stay, reduced revenue and increased expenses, all equating to a large budget shortfall," Hudson said.
CAMC had projected $185 million in target revenue for January and fell short of that mark by $15 million; Hudson said it had projected a $3.8 million gain in operational income and instead had a $4.2 million loss -- a disparity of roughly $8 million.
"Expenses for a hospital are relatively fixed; if you have extra volume, your expenses don't go up that much, and if your revenue goes down, expenses don't lower that much," he said. "We had a large contraction in our revenue, but not a large contraction in our expenses."
When a chemical leak into the Elk River on Jan. 9 contaminated the water supply for Charleston and surrounding counties, CAMC canceled all of its elective procedures for that day and rerouted patients to unaffected hospitals.
According to Hudson, the hospital's yearly net revenue averages nearly $1 billion, and despite the fiscal hits, CAMC should be able to recoup its losses in the coming months.
"One month does not make the year," Hudson said. "Overall, the month was certainly a challenge."
According to Hudson, the level of uncompensated care reported for January remained constant, despite the nearly 90,000 West Virginians who have enrolled in expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act since Oct. 1. Expanded Medicaid coverage began on Jan. 1.