With admissions and labor costs ticking upward, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City ended the first three months of the year with operating income down 9.3% from the same period last year, the cancer center said in its first quarter financial filing.
Employee compensation and fringe benefit expenses increased 9.1% from the same period in 2014, primarily due to an increase in full-time employees needed to staff current patient volumes. Admissions increased 3.1% over the Q1 2014, and the cancer center added the equivalent of 770 full-time positions. In addition to meeting demand on patient volume, new employees were needed to staff new clinical facilities and due to growth in clinical and bench research.
The cancer center's costs for supplies rose 7.2%, mainly because of an $18.5 million increase in pharmaceutical costs. The rise in cost was due to volume growth, newly approved drugs and a significant market price increase for a supportive drug given to chemotherapy patients, the center reported.
Overall, patient days increased 4.2% over the first quarter of last year, continuing an upward trend. Patient days for the year 2014 had grown 1.7% over 2013. Also, use of outpatient care increased by 5.5% over the same period a year ago. The increase in visits is due to the opening of new clinical facilities during the later part of 2014, including two facilities in New York City.