Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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Cookeville Regional Committee Approves New Fiscal Budget

The Cookeville Regional Finance Committee passed the medical center’s 2025 fiscal year budget Tuesday night, with some $14.5 million for expansion and innovation projects.

Chief Financial Officer Tommye Rena Wells said the lion’s share of the expansion costs are budgeted for the 4 West and 5 West projects, a combined $9.3 million. She said the $142 million budgeted for staff will include some $6 million in market increases and a three percent merit increase.

Chief Executive Officer Buffy Key said staff is at the core of building a budget.

“The first thing we always look at is our staff,” Key said. “Because, you know, that’s our core competency, is our people; taking care of our people. And we can’t do anything without them. So we look at them first, and we look at what they need to take better care of the patients and take the most efficient, best, highest-quality care of the patient.”

Key said budgeting for major expansion projects brings a “method to the madness.” She said these projects are sometimes planned more than half a decade in advance, and seeing them come to fruition as budgeted makes budgeting for future projects easier.

“When you’re looking at expansion projects, you’re always looking at the future,” Key said. “Because, obviously, an expansion project doesn’t just happen at the snap of the finger. You have to plan for, first of all, the funding.”

The budget includes some $7.5 million in net income. The full board of trustees and Cookeville City Council must still approve.

The budget shows a considerable variance from the projected 2024 expenses for miscellaneous purchased services, with a $19 million increase. Rena Wells said this is due to changes in services, including Vanderbilt Medical Center’s management of medical and radiation oncology services, and a renegotiation of the hospital’s ApolloMD contract. A 10 percent increase in the supplies expenses as the hospital anticipates the price of pharmaceuticals to increase in January 2025.

Attorney Danny Rader said it is not often the board gets to take such a deep dive into financial data and it is important to have that perspective each year around budget season. He said it is paramount to continue to revitalize what the hospital already has, even while in the midst of exciting expansion.

“I do not think Tommye Rena can be stumped,” Rader said. “I have asked her a number of questions and she has been able to provide me detailed answers immediately, off the top of her head. I am so impressed by that.”

The total budget includes a total operating revenue of some $450 million and a total operating expense of some $425 million, both 12 percent increased from projections for 2024.

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