Hutch hospital the second-most profitable hospital in the least most-profitable state

In a state where rural hospitals are financially flat-lining, the Hutchinson Regional Medical Center has a healthy bottom line.

The Chartis Group’s 2017 Rural Relevance study of rural hospitals rates the medical center at No. 2 in Kansas, with a 15.6 percent operating margin — patient revenues minus expenses. That’s one of the few bright spots for the state The Chartis Group identified with 31 rural hospitals in danger of closing.

Kiowa County has the hospital that’s ranked with the most financial liabilities in the state, among those with negative balances.But success doesn’t come without sacrifice, said Hutchinson Regional chief executive officer Ken Johnson.

To improve the health of its balance sheet, the hospital had to eliminate 50 positions and not fill another 50 spots back in 2012, Johnson said. Both of those were moves toward improving the sustainability of the hospital. Other moves included outsourcing medical insurance coding and closing the Dillon Living Center in 2016.

The center, which was an assisted-living and skilled nursing home, lost over $1 million a year. The closure affected about 70 full-time-equivalent staff and roughly 70 residents.

“Some of the things we have done over the years have been to cut costs, but not to the detriment of the community,” Johnson said, adding a study showed enough assisted-living homes in the area to house the displaced residents.

(Read more: Local – The Hutchinson News)