WEIRTON - Weirton Medical Center has learned that Fitch Ratings affirmed a BB rating on $7 million in hospital revenue bonds, and upgraded the hospital's outlook from "negative" to "stable."
Dr. Joseph?P. Endrich, the medical center's president and chief executive officer, said, "We are very pleased with Fitch Ratings' affirmation of the bond grades, and, particularly, with their upgrading of our outlook from negative to stable. Given the difficulties of the past few years, we are pleased that our work to turn around the hospital has been recognized in this manner."
Fitch's press release detailed the rationale for affirming the rating and upgrading the outlook includes:
-- Improved operating performance at Weirton?Medical Center, driven by a turnaround plan being implemented by Quorum Health Resources. On May 1, 2010, the medical center board hired QHR for a two-year engagement. A chief financial officer, a chief operating officer, an interim chief nursing officer and additional consultants were brought aboard and began to evaluate and revamp revenue cycle management, payer contracts, human resources, labor negotiations and case management.
-- Operating losses have been cut by more than half during the 11-month interim period and Weirton is exceeding budget. As of May 31, the operating margin was a negative 2 percent, compared with negative 4.8 percent for the same period in fiscal 2010. Revenue is up by a half percent through the interim period, after having been down about 8 percent from fiscal 2009 to fiscal 2010.
-- Many of QHR's initiatives will be felt more fully in fiscal 2012, led by improvements in payer contracts and better case management.
In addition to QHR's initiatives, Weirton?Medical Center has had physician recruitment gains in orthopedics and obstetrics and plans to replace its current cardiac catheterization lab with state-of-the-art Phillips technology in?October.
The potential positive impact of newly recruited physicians has been figured conservatively in the budget, with the hospital budgeting for flat volumes. Inpatient declines had been a major concern during the last rating action but have fallen more in line with inpatient decline trends nationally. Emergency room admissions had shown modest year-over-year growth.
"With the continued support of our local community and businesses, we expect to continue the turnaround success and ensure that Weirton?Medical Center will be here to serve residents for years to come," Endrich said.