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Hospital chief wants to stay nonprofit

November 26, 1996

By LAURA ERNDE

Staff Writer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Playing a videotaped segment of "60 Minutes," hospital President Norman B. Epstein illustrated Tuesday how important it is that Waynesboro and Chambersburg hospitals remain nonprofit.

"We're going to take care of people who come to our door whether they can pay or not," Epstein said at Chambersburg Hospital's annual meeting Tuesday.

The "60 Minutes" story, which originally aired last month, outlined questionable takeovers of nonprofit hospitals by a for-profit company.

When money became the bottom line, the hospitals cut charitable services and the number of nurses. In one case, an entire hospital was closed.

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There are no offers to buy Chambersburg or Waynesboro hospitals, said Epstein, who is president of both Franklin County hospitals and their umbrella organization Summit Health.

"We believe we will remain nonprofit in the future," he said.

But Epstein said he wanted to show Chambersburg Hospital's board of directors the importance of their stewardship.

Financially, the hospital did not have as good a year this year as last, Epstein said.

The hospital made $1.4 million this year, compared to $3.1 million last year, he said.

He attributed the decline to reduced reimbursements for health care services by managed care companies.

The hospital gave $7 million in free care to residents this year compared to $2 million last year, he said.

The growth of managed care companies is rapidly having an impact on the community, said Robert S. Hoover, chairman of the hospital board.

With that in mind, Summit Health joined other regional health care providers in bringing two new health plans to greater Franklin County: South Central Preferred and HealthCentral.

Those plans emphasize preventative health, Hoover said.

"Isn't it about time we moved in that direction?" he asked.

In the past year, the hospital also:

  • Identified three community health concerns and are working to address them. They are adolescent health, preventative care and nutrition and physical fitness.
  • Opened a new sleep disorder lab.
  • Opened a community outreach office in Shippensburg, Pa.
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