"Providers learn to adapt in tough Albuquerque market" (March 1, p. 36) states that "New Mexico hospitals provided $58 million in charity care in 1997, representing a whopping 14% of total revenues." A more meaningful number, secured from the New Mexico Hospitals and Health Systems Association and figured by a private accounting firm, indicates that uncompensated care in 1997 amounted to $198.7 million, or 12% of patient service revenues.
I was privileged to serve as chief executive officer at Presbyterian Healthcare Services for about 30 years, beginning in 1952. A correction is indicated for your reference to Presbyterian: "One of the city's smaller hospital operators two decades ago, Presbyterian is now the state's largest healthcare company."
Hospital admissions obtained from the American Hospital Association Guide show that in 1952 Presbyterian accounted for 38% of the city's 10,546 admissions. In 1981, about two decades ago, Presbyterian admitted 32,201 patients, or 49% of the market share, which would hardly make it one of the smaller hospitals in Albuquerque. It was clearly the hospital of choice in the community.
The story includes the quote, "We (Presbyterian) were looking seriously at managed care in the 1980s," which disregards the fact that in the early 1970s, Presbyterian secured federal HMO funds and collaborated with St. Joseph (Medical Center) to offer an HMO product for some seven years. The plan folded from a lack of full physician support, but it left behind a fund of information for the future.
In the years before "two decades ago," Presbyterian was an innovator. In addition to the 1972 HMO effort, again in collaboration with St. Joseph, Presbyterian initiated the highly successful Home Health Care plan, acquired and improved a statewide ambulance service and established several clinics in underserved areas.
Presbyterian also built the first satellite hospital in the area, developed a 10-hospital system statewide, reorganized into a corporate structure widely used today, purchased a business system company to convert its business office, initiated its own statewide medical supply company and formed a fund-raising foundation, which has in recent years contributed some $35 million. Presbyterian's growth in the past two decades has been primarily in its Health Care plan and the shift of patient care to more outpatient services.
Your article is correct. Albuquerque has been a fiercely competitive area for some five decades.
Presbyterian Healthcare Services