With Akron Children’s Hospital constantly growing and evolving, staff accountant Mark Zito says there’s always something new and exciting happening in his department.
And this year is especially busy with the flurry of construction activities occurring.
“There are more than 100 capital projects going on throughout the year,” said Zito, who has been with Akron Children’s for 13 years. “And now with the master plan, it’s a whole new set of projects.”
This past spring, Akron Children’s broke ground on its Building on the Promise expansion campaign that includes a patient care tower and attached parking garage.
Zito has been busy accounting for the $200 million project, which is set for completion in early 2015. The building and parking deck have various components such as structure, electric, plumbing and HVAC, which then must be entered into the fixed asset system and assigned “useful lives” for depreciation.
With the parking garage completed and the tower construction well under way, much of his time is now devoted to developing a method to account for the project’s upcoming equipment purchases. This will include medical equipment and office furniture for the 7-story tower.
“I like working with numbers,” said Zito. “There will be hundreds of assets once it’s all done, and just breaking everything out into the components and seeing how depreciation fits into there, it’s exciting.”
Zito recognizes that not everyone may know what depreciation is. He said that since capital assets benefit the organization over a number of years, a portion of the assets’ cost is expensed annually.
An example is an EKG machine that costs $7,000 and has a useful life of 7 years. We would depreciate $1,000 each year for 7 years until the asset is fully depreciated.
In addition to the accounting for and reconciliation for all capital purchases, Zito’s main responsibilities include the accounting for Children’s Home Care Group and Children’s Healthcare Business Solutions, which provides billing and collection services for the hospital and its subsidiaries.
The New Year found Zito busy closing out the previous year. He’ll also be working with the auditors in March to review the 2013 books.
“You have to be detail oriented working with numbers,” said Zito, who started his career in food science, but was later attracted to the accounting field after his manager put him in charge of completing the monthly statements.” Plus, there is a lot of cross communication with different levels in management, which is good. I enjoy that. You’re not just in your cube working on the computer.”
Just a few cubicles down from Zito, Glen Davis, senior reimbursement and community benefits analyst, agrees there are always new challenges and interesting projects going on in the accounting department. He’s also involved in a major change at Akron Children’s converting to Epic, the hospital’s EMR.
“This has been a challenging time, because as we put in Epic, not only does it change all the front-end and patient care processes with the electronic medical records, it [also] changes the patient accounting system,” he said. “There’s a lot of transition and learning.”
When Epic was initially installed, various billing variances were discovered. Davis has been busy the past year working with patient accounting and Epic representatives to resolve the issues and then test and retest the system.
“There’s a routine, but you also have to be prepared for the unexpected, and the unexpected makes every day different,” he said.
Davis’ day-to-day responsibilities include making sure his department is accurately reporting the hospital’s net revenue.
But in healthcare, it’s a bit more challenging than a retail environment. Much of it is regulated and out of the hospital’s control.
For example, if the hospital incurs revenue in May, it must be reflected in that same month. However, it can take months for the hospital to receive payment on that revenue.
Therefore, Davis and the reimbursement team have to estimate what the hospital will get paid in order to state the net revenue properly. He must come up with a modeling system to make those estimates and reflect what actually happens in the end.
“To be a good accountant, you have to have attention to detail,” said Davis, who also spends his time keeping track and processing the hospital’s community benefit program. “You have to be able to think logically and excel at problem solving. Otherwise, you’ll rip your hair out.”
Though Davis joined Akron Children’s less than 2 years ago, he’s worked in healthcare finance and operations for more than 30 years. He enjoys the challenge and the constant need to problem solve.
“It’s probably my biggest motivation factor,” Davis said. “Being able to quantify and help solve an issue is extremely satisfying. The accounting department is made up of a group of highly talented individuals who are a pleasure to work with. It’s easy to get excited about coming to work here.”
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