MCH Looks to the Future

PETERBOROUGH — After state budget cuts, Monadnock Community Hospital is faring better than other regional hospitals — staying out of the red and also planning for future development.

The state cutbacks in Medicaid reimbursements that have adversely affected hospitals such as Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene have also hurt the Peterborough hospital, although not to the same extent, according to CEO Peter L. Gosline.

“We aren’t ending our year in a deficit, and we haven’t budgeted one for 2012,” Gosline said. “However, we are just above breaking even, and that’s not sustainable in the long term.”

A healthy nonprofit hospital should be making 3 to 4 percent above the break-even mark to sustain itself; the small profits would be used to make repairs and improvements, and replace old equipment, Gosline said.

“It’s been a difficult year, and we’ve had to make sacrifices to stay marginally in the black,” he said. “There were no raises this year. We’re looking at ways to be more efficient with our time and with our supplies. We’ve also been putting off some purchases. These times call for us to be very frugal.”

Gosline said the hospital has not needed to lay off any employees, and there are no plans to do so in the future.

“It’s a delicate balance, because if the state increases cutbacks, or we lose money from Medicare at the federal level, we would have to do more belt-tightening — and I don’t know what that would mean yet,” he said.

Yet, Gosline said the hospital is still making long-term plans for growth in the future.

During the summer, the hospital purchased an adjacent 13-acre lot. The $500,000 parcel was bought with funds given to the hospital by a local family who wanted to see the hospital invest in long-term projects, Gosline said.

“It was a strategically located property that would provide us with the chance to develop business in the future and allow us to meet the constantly growing and changing needs of the community,” Gosline said.

While no solid plans are in the works yet, Gosline said he hopes one day the property could be used for a long-term residential care and assisted living community.

“Peterborough already has two such communities, but they are geared towards a more affluent clientele,” Gosline said. “This would be geared more toward the middle class, and would be on the hospital campus, so residents would have very easy access to facilities for their medical appointments.”

The hospital recently completed two major renovation projects, totaling $22 million. The emergency room was renovated earlier this year, and this fall, the operating rooms were expanded.

Any new project is still several years off, because planning, obtaining approvals and financial backing would take at least a year, and construction would take more time, Gosline said.

“Right now, the economy just isn’t good, and because of that, there just isn’t a lot of opportunity to do that right now,” Gosline said. “But it’s important that we keep thinking ahead and planning, because this decline won’t last forever.”

Story published by Christina Braccio at the Keene Sentinel on Friday November 18th.