UMC Board of Managers talks EPCH again, no action taken

EL PASO, Texas - The University Medical Center Board of Managers met during a special session for the second time in as many weeks Thursday to discuss whether or not any actions need to be taken against El Paso Children's Hospital.

Children's hospital owes UMC $68 million for rent and other support services, and the debt continues to rise.

In last week's special board meeting, four factors were laid out as being the root causes:

1 - State and federal Medicaid reimbursements have significantly decreased.

2 - Inpatient volume at EPCH is down.

3 - The accounts receivable department has been going through restructuring.

4 - Overhead and operating costs are too high.

Of the most controllable contributing factors in the equation is likely the inpatient volume. UMC President and CEO Jim Valenti spoke with ABC-7 off camera. He said in order to increase patient volume, Children's needs to begin getting more referrals from local pediatricians and casting a wider net in terms of where patients are coming to El Paso from, such as Deming, New Mexico, and Alamogordo. Just last week, Valenti said children's expects to be at least $16 million in the red this year, meaning it won't likely be paying back UMC anytime soon, and that effects the UMC's bottom line.

This entire time, two teams have been discussing the problems and what solutions are available. The joint-organization strategic planning committee between UMC, EPCH, and El Paso First insurance members and the UMC Board of Managers.

"We're getting there little by little. It's a matter of getting understanding of the situation and looking for solutions. That's what we're after," UMC Board Chair William Hanson said.

The next strategic planning committee meeting should be June 4 at Loretto Academy. Meetings are closed to the public. 

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