The city of Quincy, Mass., had to hit the state up for a loan and commit millions of future municipal tax dollars, but in the end a deal was struck to keep its struggling city hospital open.
Next, with the help of a clinical affiliation with Boston Medical Center, Quincy Hospital will try to entice enough profitable business through its doors to stanch the red ink.
Licensed for 282 beds, the city hospital had been running at 85% occupancy of 150 staffed beds. It posted a net loss of $11 million on $72 million in net patient revenues in fiscal 1998 ended Sept. 30, and a nearly identical loss is expected for fiscal 1999, said spokeswoman Renee Buisson.
In April Quincy and Boston Medical Center launched formal talks about an affiliation that would convert the facility to not-for-profit status and expand services.
The hospital needed a cure for sagging patient volume, said Mayor James Sheets, a problem traced partly to a 1996 incident in which a surgeon removed the wrong kidney from a cancer patient. Since then surgical volume has declined.
The new clinical affiliation is intended to "bring more business into the hospital without increasing the overhead," Buisson said. As part of the deal 29 physicians from the teaching hospital will also practice at Quincy, strengthening services such as back surgery and neurosurgery, she said.
Boston Medical also sent two of its top physicians to Quincy as chief of medicine and chief of surgery, supplying clinical leadership. Quality assurance and clinical oversight were important objectives of the affiliation, said Boston Medical spokeswoman Ellen Berlin.
"One thing Boston Medical Center will give us is new credibility," Sheets said. The deal also designates Quincy Medical Center, as it's now called, as the referring hospital for 13 towns south of Boston served by a network of community health centers affiliated with Boston Medical, he said.
The affiliation was nearly derailed when the state Legislature stalled on a $12.1 million appropriation. The final version changed the transaction to a no-interest loan instead of a grant. It also set up a $7 million pool for other hospitals that can show need.
The city committed $33 million, half from reserves and half from taxes. The hospital's unions agreed to concessions on benefits that will save $3.7 million annually.