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OHSU narrows operating loss, ramps up focus on complex care

OHSU provides care uniquely available at an academic health center
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Oregon Health & Science University narrowed an operating loss in its health system from the first to the second quarter, but will need to redouble efforts to improve its financial outlook to break even for the fiscal year that ends June 30, the university’s board of directors heard Thursday, during a regular public meeting.

OHSU clinical activity continues to grow year-over-year with strong demand, but revenue is being outpaced by increased costs in wages and benefits.

OHSU logged a $26 million operating loss over the first half of the year on a $4.9 billion annual budget. However, Chief Financial Officer Lawrence Furnstahl noted that the operating loss is more than offset by a $68 million payment in federal reimbursement from prior years, related to expenses in contract labor, personal protective equipment and other costs stemming from the COVID-19 national emergency.

Further, Furnstahl expressed optimism that OHSU will break loose from economic challenges affecting the health care industry nationwide. Even as it faces unprecedented patient capacity challenges and continues to see more high-acuity patients, OHSU is continuing work to improve patient flow, while also accelerating growth of complex services in cancer, neurosurgery and cardiovascular health that are uniquely provided at the state’s only academic health center.

In other business, the board heard reports on the following:

  • In her annual quality and safety report, Chief Medical Officer Renee Edwards, M.D., noted that OHSU achieved a top 5-star ranking from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Edwards described plans to improve outcomes in mortality, safety and patient experience.
  • Chief Nursing Officer Brooke Baldwin, DNP, RN, outlined a strategic vision for the future of nursing and patient care at OHSU.
  • David Huang, M.D., Ph.D., presented an inventor’s perspective of optical coherence tomography, the technology for which he and two others earned the Lasker Award as well as the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. The technology routinely helps prevent blindness and is increasingly used to diagnose and treat conditions of the heart, brain, skin and more.
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