On Wednesday, February 1, 2023, Littleton Regional Healthcare held its 116th Annual Meeting to reflect on its 2022 Fiscal Year. This was the first in-person Annual Meeting following a hiatus due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. At the last Meeting held in person in early 2020, LRH was reflecting on its 2019 Fiscal Year and had just announced its first suspected case of COVID-19. Not long after that meeting, universal restrictions set in and the world as we knew it began to change. This in-person meeting is a good reminder that COVID-19 is something that our healthcare leaders have adapted to and now respond to just like many other communicable diseases they encounter.
LRH President and Chief Executive Officer, Robert Nutter, opened the evening by welcoming the community and recognizing the LRH Board of Trustees, LRH Leadership, LRH Volunteers, LRH Auxiliary, and LRH workforce members in attendance. Then, Jeff Woodward, Chair of LRH’s Board of Trustees provided his Board Report and shared the comings and goings of Board members. Woodward attributed LRH’s ability to “not only survive but thrive over the past three years” to the great work of LRH’s workforce.
Next, the outgoing President of the LRH Medical Staff, Dr. Richard McKenzie, explained the purpose of the Medical Staff at LRH as the entity that the Board of Trustees has designated to oversee the quality of medical care provided at LRH and credentialing of providers. He went on to talk about new providers LRH welcomed in 2022, in areas such as Sports Medicine and Orthopaedics as well as Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine, “who share our dedication to delivering only the highest quality care”, noted McKenzie.
LRH’s Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Edward Duffy, spoke at length about one of the major enhancements in the 2022 Fiscal Year, LRH’s investment in an upgraded Electronic Health Records system. As LRH explained at the time of the system conversion, an EHR is the foundation of care in any healthcare setting. Duffy explained how this single, integrated platform supports clinical efficiency, improved communication between patients and their care team, and more accurate billing and charge inventory, among other benefits. Plus, with the new system comes a new, robust patient portal for LRH patients.
A review of LRH’s financial health was provided by LRH’s Chief Financial Officer, Steven Shaffer. Overall, it appears LRH is doing well financially, with patient volumes exceeding 147,000 in total in 2022. Shaffer noted that LRH is not immune to the financial challenges hospitals across the country are facing, however, stating that the budgets for the coming years reflect a lean operation. He reported $225 million in gross revenue and a $1 million operating margin in Fiscal Year 2022. He also explained that COVID-related funds received by LRH significantly decreased this past year, $2.4 million in total in 2022 compared to $8.6 million in 2021. In 2023, LRH expects less than $100,000 in COVID-related financial support.
Koren Superchi, Vice President of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer at LRH, took the podium to address the standards of care at LRH. “Quality is embedded in everything we do at LRH and is the foundation of our approach to patient care,” Superchi noted. She explained how maintaining appropriate nurse-to-patient cares and LRH’s commitment to ongoing education and competency, for example, set it apart. Superchi recalled how LRH was a leader in COVID-19 efforts in the State and how it would assemble mass vaccination clinics when called upon by New Hampshire’s Department of Health & Human Services.
One of the highlights of LRH’s 2022 Fiscal Year was its collaborative efforts with strategic partners who share LRH’s dedication to delivering quality care. Superchi emphasized cooperative efforts with four entities in particular – ClearChoiceMD Urgent Care, with whom LRH opened a joint venture urgent care center in Lincoln, NH; Ammonoosuc Community Health Services, a longstanding partner of LRH that supports a continuum of care for patients; Mid-State Health Center, a partner in expanding access to LRH’s specialty care to the Central New Hampshire area; and Dartmouth-Health, a major focus of LRH’s this past year, allowing residents of our region access to tertiary care at the push of a button and keeping patients in their community hospital.
Nutter returned to explain that LRH is on a path of integration, modernization, and collaboration, with every investment LRH, makes being a direct investment in the patients it serves. “We do what we do exceptionally well, but it’s unrealistic to believe we can do everything. That is why we strategically align with partners that complement our programs, services, and providers and further enhance our ability to provide top-notch care,” stated Nutter. “We are here to serve our patients, so we take active steps to ensure our adopted approach is responsible and sustainable, and we can continue to provide the high-quality care the region depends on, just as we have since 1907,” he added.
In closing, Nutter reminded the audience of the Emergency Department renovation LRH announced at its last in-person meeting. He said that after a long pause on many strategic initiatives due to COVID-19, LRH has resumed efforts on projects taking into consideration things learned from the Pandemic. LRH expects to break ground on the Emergency Department expansion this year, which will feature space dedicated to meeting the specific needs of Behavioral Health patients.