June 23, 2006

elevate: Answering the Tough Questions

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Photo by John Howser

Medical Center leadership answers the tough questions about what the elevate program is and what it means for the people who work at VUMC.

Question: How do you explain to employees that, even though the Medical Center may show a “profit” of $40 million, we are experiencing hard times?

Answer: For the fiscal year that will end in June, we estimate that the Medical Center's expenses will reach $1.81 billion, and that our income will exceed this figure by a little more than 2 percent, so that we'll end the year with about $40 million available to invest in the Medical Center's future.

The money we make goes to renovate labs and classrooms and hospital units; it pays for capital equipment purchases and for new programs that serve our patients, our students and our community.

We had budgeted to end the year with a margin of $60 million, and indications are that we might have managed to exceed that figure, but the restructuring of TennCare placed a tremendous burden on the Medical Center.

VUMC will care for roughly the same number of indigent patients this year as last year, but this year we will receive $25 million less from TennCare.

Every dollar counts.

While it doesn't look as though we'll be forced to shut down programs or lay off staff, we will be forced to give up some plans for improvement.

That's what is financially difficult about these times.

— Harry Jacobson, M.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs