Petersburg’s hospital board approved its operating budget for 2024 at its meeting on June 29th. They estimate their total operating revenue over the next year to be $25 million — that’s $3 million more than this year’s estimate. Phil Hofstetter is the CEO of the Petersburg Medical Center. He says it was a reach

“It’s a tough environment right now — probably the hardest I’ve ever seen in healthcare,” said Hofstetter. “The budget was tough. I mean, I’m glad we were able to actually move forward on it. I’ll be lucky if it’s cost neutral. We’re not quite out of the woods yet — but we’re working on it, and I’m a lot more optimistic this year. We’ve been getting some grants coming through because of the awesome work of our staff.”

Last winter was challenging for the hospital. Hofstetter says PMC had to file for exceptional relief with the state so their salaries could match the local cost of living. The hospital was running up to 15% losses for three months, and had to dip into some of their reserves so they wouldn’t have to cut staff or services. 

“Petersburg is very fortunate to have a lot of local hires — we have very few contractors.” said Hofstetter. “And they do a lot. We wear like 14 different hats. I used to say three, but now it’s expanded into ten or twelve. And I’m exaggerating a little — but at the same time, it’s very, very hard.”

Hofstetter said high staff turnover is adding to their struggle. It’s been a challenge to retain their workforce in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Across the nation, it’s something that we’re seeing in all facilities,” said Hofstetter. “It’s so well-documented now, but it’s all related to post-COVID results in health care. It’s very challenging to get in the workforce in general — lots of retiring. It’s been very, very hard on staff.”

As they rebuild, the board is focusing on lowering its expenses, rather than trying to tap new revenue streams. But Hofstetter is hopeful that a number of grants might lighten their load. The funding will support specific programs, such as home health, behavioral health, and PMC’s nursing program.