Auditors: Nashville General does not need more Metro funding

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The auditors of Nashville General Hospital’s books say the facility’s finances have improved enough in the past year to allow it to operate without additional funding from Metro Council in coming years.

The news came Thursday at a meeting of the safety net hospital’s board of trustees. In the past year, the facility’s leaders were able to grow their equity and balance their budget. Fiscal 2018 was the first year in decades the hospital was able to turn positive numbers. In fiscal 2016, the hospital ended the year with a $7.5 million deficit, which was an improvement from the $14.9 million deficit in fiscal 2015.

Several factors and implemented changes have led to the turnaround, the most notable being that collections have risen substantially. Outstanding patient payments to Nashville General went from $11.3 million to $4.6 million in the past year.

“We continue to improve and are doing great,” board president Joel Sullivan said during the meeting. “I am really excited for the future.”

Nashville General did not respond prior to publication of this story with the hospital’s preliminary 2018 results. We will update this story when we get those numbers.

Hospital leaders said Metro Council has committed to fully funding the hospital. Last year, Council approved $16 million in emergency funding to bail the hospital out of revenue shortfalls. Similar funding had been provided to the hospital for several years prior.

The hospital’s financial reputation was further dinged last September by reports of an accumulated $400,000 worth of credit card bills spent by top hospital officers with no documentation of itemized spending. And along with budgetary problems, the hospital has faced public criticisms due to board turnover and the rushed — and perhaps coerced — renewal of CEO Joseph Webb’s contract before a performance review was completed.