WellStar Health System, which recently underwent a leadership change as it undertakes a new strategic direction, ended fiscal 2015 on stronger financial footing after completing an electronic health-record implementation that added costs.
The EHR implementation was one of two unusual items that dragged down WellStar's operating surplus last year. Not only did the system convert all clinical systems to Epic Systems Corp.'s EpicCare, but it saw lower volume and higher staffing costs after severe winter storms brought the Atlanta region to a standstill.
In financial statements filed for bondholders, WellStar reported an operating surplus of $67 million on $1.8 billion in revenue for the fiscal year ended June 30. Its operating surplus in fiscal 2014 was $86.7 million on $1.6 billion in revenue, but the EHR implementation and winter weather brought its surplus down to $29.4 million.
Yet WellStar's recurring expenses in fiscal 2015 increased across the board, including jumps in compensation, supply and depreciation and amortization costs.
The financial statements for the year ended June 30 did not include utilization statistics.
The Marietta, Ga.-based system has been under new leadership since July 1 when Candice Saunders replaced Reynold Jennings as CEO after previously serving as WellStar's president and chief operating officer. Jennings took over the role of chief strategy officer.
WellStar has been looking to expand its footprint in the greater Atlanta region. It first sought a tie-up with Emory Healthcare, but the two systems ended talks this year after WellStar said the deal wouldn't fit with its new focus. It is now in discussions to buy five Atlanta-area hospitals from Tenet Healthcare Corp.
The system in May also signed a letter of intent to partner with 412-bed West Georgia Health in LaGrange, Ga., about 70 miles south of Atlanta, in a deal that will add a number of attractive post-acute-care assets to the system.
Saunders' focus will be on building partnerships that emphasize WellStar's role in its communities, the system said.