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MetroHealth System sees $20 million surplus for the year, despite tough revenue environment — MedCity Weekend Rounds

The MetroHealth System in Cleveland, Ohio, is expecting a $20 million surplus this year — which, though laudable in a tough revenue environment, is a “thimbleful” of what it needs to sustain its growth and vitality. That and more in MedCity News Weekend rounds.

Here are five of the top stories at MedCity News this week:

     ♦   The MetroHealth System in Cleveland, Ohio, is expecting a $20 million surplus this year — which, though laudable in a tough revenue environment, is a “thimbleful in the ocean, in terms of what we really need if we’re going to be able to sustain the kind of growth and vitality that we want this system to represent,” trustee Donna Kelly Rego said during a late afternoon board meeting on Wednesday. That surplus, though meager when compared to the estimated $250 million in uncompensated care the health system will provide patients this year, will be reinvested in the infrastructure of MetroHealth, owned by Cuyahoga County and considered the safety net hospital for many of the county’s residents.

     ♦   The number of Midwest health care startups receiving investments could set a record this year. However, the start-ups reported winning far fewer dollars in the first nine months of the year than in either 2008 or 2007. Midwest health care startups reported $593.2 million in investments across 140 companies through the first three quarters of 2009, according to the BioEnterprise Midwest Health Care Venture Investment Report. Â In terms of dollars, that was down 34 percent from $896.7 million in 2008 and 41 percent lower than $1 billion in 2007. But as for companies receiving investments, that was up 24 percent from 113 at the same point in 2008 and up 35 percent from 104 in 2007.

     ♦   Recently proposed legislation would expand the power of registered nurses in Ohio and allow them to determine and pronounce death. House Bill 314, which was also proposed at the tail end of last year’s legislative session, is meant largely to address primary care physician shortages in hospitals and hospice locations. Adding this power for nurses would avoid prolonged waits for physicians to arrive and pronounce death. About 20 states, including Arkansas, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin, have similar legislation.

     ♦   Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland have licensed medical imaging technology called optical coherence tomography to Bioptigen Inc. in Research Triangle Park, N.C., in exchange for an equity stake in the company. “Fourier domain optical coherence tomography” is a medical imaging technology developed from  research at the Case Department of Biomedical Engineering that is similar to ultrasound but uses light rather than sound waves to do its work.

     ♦   Notable investments , grants or gifts for the week: Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals Inc., the Newport, Kentucky, developer and maker of drugs for women’s health care and pain management, has completed a $50 million round of equity financing led by Longitude Capital… Case Western Reserve University School of  Medicine in Cleveland has won a $14.7 million, nine-year contract from the National Institutes of Health to be one of five institutions to lead a national high blood pressure trial… PureZone Technologies in Minneapolis is raising $3 million ahead of the November launch of its product: a filtration system that also blows away allergens and other particles through a pillow… The Cleveland Clinic has received a $2 million gift from the Borra Family Foundation to establish the Pier C. and Renee A. Borra Family Endowed Chair in Gastroenterology and Hepatology. The first holder of the chair will use the money to study fatty liver disease… Health care scheduling company StaffKnex in Bedford Heights, Ohio, added $1.3 million to its first round of venture funding as it prepares for a broader sales effort.

Have a lovely weekend!