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Hospital Had 2 Debt-Free Months, Going for 3

Times Staff Writer

Thanks to two unexpectedly good months in a row, UCI Medical Center officials said Friday, the hospital probably will end the fiscal year June 30 in less debt than was predicted.

Leon Schwartz, acting director of the medical center, had estimated the center would be about $12.5 million in debt by June 30. He said Friday, however, that April and May were financially better than expected and that, so far, June is also proving to be a debt-free month.

“It now looks as if our cumulative deficit for the (fiscal) year will be slightly under $10 million,” Schwartz said.

“During the month of March we had a $140,000 loss, but in April we had a $214,000 gain and our preliminary figures for May show a $150,000 gain,” he said. Hospital occupancy figures for June “are very good so far, and I would expect we would at least break even this month,” he added.

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Schwartz said there were a number of factors in the turnaround: earlier cost-cutting measures now are taking hold; more privately insured patients are coming to the hospital, and the hospital began an improved system of collecting money from the state for poor patients.

Schwartz said the hospital this spring has attracted more patients from the UC Irvine community, both faculty members and students.

Cost-cutting measures at the hospital have included layoffs last winter of some nurses and other hospital workers. “We already had the lowest operating costs in the university (system),” Schwartz said.

He described the improved billing system as “a way for the computers to sort of talk to each other . . . . Our computers can now bill the state computers for a Medi-Cal patient,” Schwartz said.

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