After Injection of County Cash, Hospital Turns Corner

Fairfield County Council received an update Monday night on their $1.2 million investment into Fairfield Memorial Hospital in a meeting on the Midland’s Tech campus with the hospital’s Board of Directors.

“The good news is that it’s good news,” Tim Mitchell, the hospital’s Chief Financial Officer, said.

Mitchell reported that the hospital, for the first time this fiscal year, turned a profit in May, with revenue exceeding expenses by $40,255, according to his report. While the hospital’s operating numbers were more than $39,000 in the red, non-operating income came in at $79,293. Year-to-date expenses are also down for the hospital by more than $474,000 over last year.

Mitchell also reported that the hospital was now current on its payments into the State Retirement System, as well as the employee insurance program. The hospital has also met its obligations to the Town of Winnsboro for utility payments, Mitchell said, and all outstanding taxes have been paid and all liens satisfied.

Patient days and admissions were up in May, something Mike Williams, the hospital’s Director, accredited to the hospital’s partnership with Palmetto Health.

“Over the last two and a half, three months, we’ve worked very closely with Palmetto Health getting a collaboration with them,” Williams said. “They have staff members that come to Fairfield, and we have staff members that go there.”

Mitchell said the Senior Connections program, launched in April, also contributed to the May turnaround.

“But I would caution you that we are entering a very slow period,” Mitchell warned. “The summer months are not typically a high-volume period.”

Williams said patients coming in from clinics are actually down in recent months, and County Council Chairman David Ferguson said he had expected the Eau Claire clinic to have had more of an impact on the hospital’s numbers by now.

“I have been a little bit disappointed in the coming out of Eau Claire,” Ferguson said. “They really haven’t hit the community like I feel like they’re going to have to if they’re going to be an interested part of the community, and they haven’t done that yet.”

Ferguson said the County was in the process of setting up a meeting with Eau Claire to determine what role they could play in the future of the hospital.

Another potential future for the hospital is a new home closer to I-77.

“We’re thinking long-term,” Williams said. “We’ve got to look at the stability of the hospital and where a hospital can survive. I-77 can help support the hospital. It is very, very difficult to survive in Winnsboro. It’s something we’ve got to look at if you want to have a hospital in the county.”

Ferguson said that once the first of the new reactors comes online at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station, and that tax money begins to flow into the County, the hospital and the County should give consideration to the idea of relocating the hospital.