Health Care

Community support costs for Wesley slightly higher in 2011

A combination of increased revenue and nearly flat charity care expense pushed Wesley Medical Center’s total community support costs slightly higher in 2011.

Officials of the area’s second-largest hospital said this week that Wesley’s total community support — comprising income, sales and property taxes and charity care and bad debt expenses — was $144.3 million, a 1 percent increase from $142.9 million in 2010.

Charity care costs were basically unchanged at $109 million in 2011. Wesley’s chief competitor, Via Christi Health, reported last month that it had slightly lower charity care expense in 2011.

Wesley chief financial officer Matt Leary and CEO Hugh Tappan said most of the increase came from higher income tax from higher revenue in 2011.

“I would say it was a slightly better economic environment for us compared to 2010,” Leary said.

Neither Leary nor Tappan would disclose Wesley’s revenue in 2011.

While Leary said the economy improved somewhat in 2011, his boss, Tappan, said it isn’t yet clear how the HCA-owned hospital’s revenue and expenses will fare in 2012.

“From a general economic situation, I’m still nervous,” Tappan said. He said he’s not certain how winding down Boeing operations in Wichita will affect the institution, and also unclear are the effects of federal health reform, Medicaid spending and funding for graduate medical education, or residency training.

“Our growth … is based on a growing economy and growing companies,” Tappan said.

The community support costs represent expenses at Wesley’s main campus at 550 N. Hillside, Wesley West ER, several clinics and its partnership in Surgicare of Wichita.

Tappan and Leary said that with the closing of the acquisition of Galichia Heart Hospital in January, Wesley’s community support costs will be higher in 2012.