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CRMC Budget Approved, 12 Percent Increase

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
CRMC Budget Approved, 12 Percent Increase

Cookeville City Council approved Cookeville Regional’s fiscal year budget which includes some $7 million in positive net income.

Cookeville Finance Director Brenda Imel said the budget projects a 12 percent increase in both revenue and expenses from its fiscal year 2023 projections. She said the budget includes some $14 million in expansion and innovation projects. CRMC CEO Buffy Key said she appreciates all of the council’s work in helping the hospital craft its budget.

“City Council worked with our Board of Trustees and us on that very much,” Key said. “We went through the budget review with them several times and it was just a fantastic community process, actually. Just our relationship of being able to build that budget together.”

The majority of the expansion costs are budgeted for the 4 West and 5 West projects, a combined $9.3 million. Another $142 million is budgeted for staff, including some $6 million in market increases and a three percent merit increase.

Key said the hospital is working to navigate a “new normal” in its budget process given its recent memory of the financial implications of a pandemic.

Key said the process this year has been much easier than 2023 when some 60 percent of the state’s hospitals had negative operating margins after dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. She said each line item must be constructed with preparation for the next pandemic in mind.

“We’re supposed to be back to quote, unquote, normal,” Key said. “What does that look like? But at the same time, we will never be normal again. We have to always plan for that next pandemic, and I pray that doesn’t happen, but you have to plan for that.”

She said the hospital is back on more comfortable footing in regards to staffing. She said Cookeville Regional always has open positions and is ready to hire, but the new budget has a major focus on taking care of staff, which she said is the key to getting the best patient outcomes.

“My biggest focus for CRMC and our community is the fact that we wake up everyday taking care of our people,” Key said. “And that includes our patients, their families, but it also includes out staff.”


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