Contributor: Barry Duplantis, Chief Financial Officer, REMSA
As we enter 2021 with a sense of hope for a return to normalcy, I recently reflected on some of REMSA’s financial investments in 2020. Despite a global pandemic, weeks-long smoke from regional wildfires and record-breaking temperatures, our ground and air healthcare providers responded to more than 79,000 calls and completed more than 51,600 transports. This is impressive – even under normal circumstances. We have all been reminded about the important work our frontline healthcare providers do every day.
As the person responsible for the financial planning and fiscal health of the organization, my focus lies elsewhere from that of the healthcare providers – nevertheless, there are commonalities between the CFO’s office and a paramedic’s office (the ambulance, of course). One of the most important similarities is ensuring that our healthcare providers have the tools and equipment they need to effectively and efficiently provide clinically-excellent patient care.
REMSA is a private, nonprofit organization – since our inception in 1986, we’ve never received local taxpayer support. We are funded solely by user fees and since healthcare reimbursement is dynamic and unpredictable, we must be good stewards of our limited resources. REMSA is entrusted – even as we work through a pandemic – to balance the need to invest in its employees and infrastructure while minimizing debt and stabilizing expenses.
Managing all of the pieces of the puzzle – like investing in capital expenses, saving money, paying down debt and, most importantly, acknowledging the valuable work of our healthcare providers and administrative staff through competitive pay and benefits – requires planning and focus.
From January through December 2020, REMSA absorbed more than $9 million in uncompensated healthcare. We invested $1.9 million in fixed assets – things like new and refurbished ambulances, gurneys, radios, computers, monitors and special event equipment. Between January 1, 2021 and February 28, 2021, we will spend an additional $800,000 on other capital projects including the arrival of three new ambulances, two remounted ambulances and electronic patient care record software. Over a 13-month timeframe, REMSA will have invested $2.8 million in equipment to ensure citizens across Washoe County and throughout the region will get timely, compassionate, innovative patient care – when it matters most.
While we were making these significant and important cash investments in the equipment and vehicles for our patient care providers, we also successfully paid off more than $2 million in debt and were able to secure about three and a half months worth of cash reserves. Having healthy cash reserves is important because we are a safety net provider so payment for the services we provide isn’t always timely or in full, or may not happen at all.
It takes discipline to ensure the immediate and long-term financial well-being of the region’s leading out-of-hospital healthcare provider. I hope all REMSA and Care Flight employees are proud that, as an organization, we are arranging our financial commitments in a way that prioritizes what’s needed to best care for our patients.