WESTMINSTER - Carroll County General's pocketbook is healthy, perhaps because more area residents and doctors are choosing the hospital for its expanding services, said the hospital's vice president for finance.

"Overall, we should be very pleased with our finances for the first quarter of the year," Kevin Kelbly told the hospital's board at its quarterly meeting Tuesday.

The hospital's recent addition of magnetic resonance imaging, a lithotripter (for non-surgical treatment of kidney stones) and other equipment may explain part of the patient increase, he said.

The hospital has shown an operating profit of $194,000 in the first four months of the fiscal year that began July 1. The hospital's parent corporation, Carroll County Health Care Services Inc., earned $300,000 on a total income of $10.5 million.

Because both are non-profit organizations, all profits are plowed back into hospital services. The $300,000 gain compares to a loss of $500,000 for the same quarter in 1989, Kelbly said.

"And we still have our best months ahead of us," he said. Hospital admissions traditionally go up after the holidays, when people postpone elective surgery.

Hospital officials want CCGH to be the "hospital of choice" for county residents, instead of it being passed over in favor of larger Baltimore medical centers.

To improve marketing for all aspects of CCGH and its subsidiaries, the hospital hired Linda Harder last month as vice president of marketing, planning and public relations.

Harder began work Nov. 26, after coming from Sturdy Memorial Hospital in Attleboro, Mass., where she was director of marketing and planning.

"Marketing is really educating people about the capabilities of the hospital and its medical staff, and letting them know about changes that have taken place," she said.

"The need for a marketing person arose out of strategic planning the hospital has been doing over the last several years," she said.

Harder was an occupational therapist for four years before getting her master's degree in business administration from Boston University in 1983.

Hospital board president William Gavin said a telephone poll commissioned by the hospital 1 years ago showed that people who had used CCGH were pleased with service there, but people new to the community who had not used it viewed it as a "little hospital in the middle of nowhere."

He said creating a vice president for marketing and planning would help disprove CCGH's image as a "backwater county" hospital.

Even before Harder came on board, the operating room had been doing about 20 percent more business than had been budgeted for the first quarter, Kelbly said. More surgeries translate to more business for the lab, the X-ray department and other diagnostic services surgical patients need.

The hospital's $29 million budget for 1990-1991 was based on an occupancy rate of 74 percent, but about 77 percent of its beds have been filled.

The hospital is the largest arm in the corporation, which includes a fund-raising arm and Carroll County Med Services, a for-profit subsidiary in joint partnerships with physicians and other health-care agencies.

The hospital finished last fiscal year with a loss of $673,000 because of a one-time expense to offer early retirement to 29 employees, Kelbly said. Otherwise, it would have shown a profit of $89,902. Except for a loss of $1.3 million in 1988, CCGH has shown a profit every year since 1981.

The parent corporation's $300,000 gain is mostly from operating budgets of the hospital and subsidiaries, Kelbly said. In addition, the hospital foundation has raised $3.6 million in pledges and contributions toward a goal of $5 million for capital projects, such as two new floors, and renovation and expansion in the emergency, surgery, cardiology and women's health departments.

The hospital also has sold a bond through Carroll County government for $9.4 million, which will go toward the capital projects, Kelbly said. The hospital will pay back that loan through increased revenue from the new services the loan will make possible, he said.

In addition, the hospital is asking the commissioners to donate $1 million over the next five years from the county budget toward the capital campaign. The commissioners haven't acted on the request, which would require General Assembly approval.

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