Atrium Health Feb Board Meeting

News | 2 months ago

Making Health Care More Affordable – FOR ALL

From enhanced financial assistance programs to investments in its teammates, Atrium Health is making state-of-the-art health care available to more people while recruiting and retaining top talent. At its first meeting of 2024, the Atrium Health Board of Commissioners learned how these investments are improving health care across the Southeast. 

During the first board meeting of 2024, Advocate Health leadership shared that Atrium Health’s Greater Charlotte Market ended the 2023 fiscal year in a strong position, ensuring it can continue doing its part to provide better health care to more people.

In fact, Kinneil Coltman, Advocate Health executive vice president and chief community and social impact officer, told the board that significant enhancements to Atrium Health’s financial assistance program in 2023 further prevented patient medical debt by more than $100 million.

We are a national benchmark for financial assistance programs in the country, Coltman said

Among the highlights of that program are automatic screening of patients to determine a need for financial assistance. Last year alone, 138,000 patients received 100% charity care. And because of the technology investment made in these programs, the vast majority of those who qualify are automatically identified and will never receive a bill for necessary care. Additionally, financial counseling teams evaluate uninsured patients with balances over $10,000 and, if applicable, more than 250 financial counselors are available to assist with applying for third-party coverage, like Medicaid. If coverage is not available, counselors will evaluate patients for financial assistance based on income versus federal poverty guidelines. In all, more than $1.07 billion was invested last year in uncompensated care, including free care for uninsured and underinsured patients across the enterprise.

“We have compared ourselves to other systems across the state,” Coltman said, “and I’m proud to report that this is the most financially generous financial assistance program in North Carolina.”

But no matter what – on this Coltman was emphatic – for those who do have an outstanding balance, Atrium Health does not report medical debt to credit reporting agencies or pursue collection liens or wage garnishment.

Better access to better health care for all has long served as the heart and soul of how Atrium Health operates. 

“Behind all these numbers are individual patients and their families and individual people who are impacted,” said Angelique R. Vincent, chair, Atrium Health Board of Commissioners, a theme that ran throughout the meeting. 

“We are thrilled that we are continuing to provide exceptional care responding to extraordinary growth,” said Ken Haynes, Advocate Health Southeast Region president. “I believe that this is a reflection of the trust our communities place in our amazing teams.” 

Haynes told the board that amidst incredible and constant change in the industry and within the organization, Advocate Health teams have developed a three-year, comprehensive integration plan, consisting of more than 1,400 initiatives that will yield $1 billion in annual synergies by the end of 2025. 

“We are proud to expand our care teams to meet the needs of our growing community,” Haynes said. 

Part of what makes all of this possible is the operating success across Atrium Health, which makes up the entirety of Advocate Health’s Southeast Region. Rodney Ball, Advocate Health senior vice president and Southeast Region chief financial officer, told the board that the Greater Charlotte Market finished 2023 with a net operating revenue of nearly $9.3 billion. This is 14.7% over what was budgeted. Ball explained that the net operating revenues largely reflect an environment that’s continuously growing in a dynamic market where patient demand could not possibly be at a higher level. Additionally, the organization reported the Greater Charlotte Market had an operating income of $452 million. 

Ball also reported the Greater Charlotte Market invested $681 million, which is 7.3% of its net operating revenue, in ongoing capital investments including the construction of its new hospital, Atrium Health Lake Norman, improvements to the Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center campus, expansion at Atrium Health Pineville, The Pearl innovation district and Wake Forest University School of Medicine - Charlotte and groundbreaking medical technology. That includes bringing some of the most advanced cancer treatment available to Atrium Health Levine Cancer Proton & Advanced Radiation Center. It’ll open to both adult and pediatric patients this month, first offering gamma knife radiosurgery treatments, followed in mid-to-late 2024 by proton beam therapy sessions

Atrium Health in Action 

  • 1.2 million patients cared for in emergency rooms 

  • 230,000+ completed surgeries across the Southeast Region

  • 25,000+ home patient visits completed by Mobile Integrated Health

Investing in Teammates 

One message that was clear is that not only is Atrium Health committed to providing the best care for its patients, Atrium Health is committed to investing in its teammates. 

Haynes told the board that the health system increased base pay for the bulk of its workforce by a minimum of 3% last month and raised its hourly minimum wage to a health care market-leading $17.50 per hour in both the Greater Charlotte and Winston-Salem markets. These increases are part of an overall investment across Advocate Health of an additional $328.4 million into its teammates’ compensation in 2024. 

That includes more than $35 million in investments for nursing compensation and enhancements. 

“It’s so important for us to be competitive within the market,” said Mary Beth Kingston, Advocate Health executive vice president and chief nursing officer, “and we look at this continuously now. It’s not just once a year.” 

Kingston told the board that Atrium Health is increasing its pay ranges for registered nurses, including raising starting pay for incoming registered nurses and compression to bring current nursing teammates up to the appropriate pay rates based on their experience. Overall, the enhancements impact more than 13,000 nurses across Atrium Health. 

But it’s bigger than supporting teammates. It’s about supporting their families, the community and those we are privileged to serve. 

“While I’m focusing on nursing and nursing workforce,” Kingston explained, “I want to reiterate that all that we do each and every day is in service to the people we serve.”

Atrium Health is currently hiring, with a special emphasis on nurses. Whether an experienced nurse looking for a change or someone just entering the profession, Atrium Health and Advocate Health offer endless opportunities to start or enhance a career. Visit ourcareers website for a complete listing of available positions.