At the end of March, the finance department and I met with department chairs to develop the fiscal year 2018 budget. This annual process is an interesting exercise that requires much insight, compromise and collegiality from all participants. The goal, of course, is to come up with a final budget that provides for lateral growth, vertical expansion of new service lines and support for our educational and research objectives.
This must be accomplished with acknowledgement that there are quite a few variables not clearly definable (e.g., governmental funding and regulatory initiatives, inflation, competition and overall economy, to name a few). The biggest impact on the budget is the opening of the UF Health North bed tower. The new facility has added challenges that must be addressed.
At the time of this report, the budget was 95 percent complete, which includes the hiring of 67 faculty — 36 new and 31 replacement. While some of these are for our existing practice sites, many are specific to providing coverage at the north campus. As in past years, the goal for the budget is a neutral bottom line. However, we expect to have a significant negatively budgeted bottom line in order to cover the additional expense of new faculty without clearly identified offsetting revenue (at least in the short term).
At the end of the third quarter of fiscal year 2017, with all financial divisions included, the practice plan had a positive bottom line of $3,556,000, against a budget loss of $1,554,000 — a variance of $5,110,000. This positive variance is in part due to a one-time final payment of $5,160,000 for the First Coast Advantage purchase. Also included in the $5 million-plus variance is a positive variance of $2,315,000 in the general operations fund. This reflects the strong work efforts of faculty and staff.
Clinical visits through March 31 included 184,423 combined outpatient visits at the downtown and north campuses. There were an additional 283,942 off-campus visits in primary and specialty care. There were 12,860 surgeries downtown and 2,042 at the north campus.
In April, the newest primary care practice in our system opened in Fernandina Beach. Initial activity has been positive, with average daily patient visits of 24, against a budget of 12 to 14. These numbers include a total of 128 new patients to our system, which makes for a very strong start.
All clinical spaces in the UF Health North medical office building were complete and ready prior to the new bed tower opening. Additional faculty have been hired, or are being recruited, to ensure there is more than adequate access for what is expected to be a large increase in new patients. This also allows for more services for established patients. With the exception of a small space (2,500 square feet) on the fifth floor, the medical office building is full. Ideas for how best to use this one remaining space are currently under consideration.
This is a bright new era for the College of Medicine – Jacksonville. While it is an exciting time, it will also present challenges, some of which are yet to be identified. But overall, the outlook for the future is unlimited.