For the first time since the former Gnaden Huetten Memorial Hospital and Palmerton Hospital merged into Blue Mountain Health System, the medical network expects to show a profit.

Andrew Harris, BMHS administrator and CEO, said Fiscal Year 2011 projects revenue to exceed expenses by $1.5 million. He said such a profit benefits capital improvement plans and employees.

In the past year, a $477,000 loss occurred. That's much less than the $2.4 million financial deficiency in 2009 and the $9.9 million loss in Fiscal Year 2006.

"I think 2010-2011 has been a good year for Blue Mountain," Harris commented.

The good financial news was presented during the annual joint meeting of the BMHS board of directors, the Gnaden Huetten board, and the Palmerton Hospital board, held in Palmerton.

The meeting was chaired by Patrick Reilly, president. The entire evening was filled with good news for the directors.

There was mention of various awards, the return of longtime physician Dr. Edward Miller as a full-time staff member, a listing of accomplishments in the past year, and the introduction of two new programs: one for patients and one for employees.

It was also pointed out that The Summit Nursing and Rehabilitation Center for BMHS received "an outstanding survey by the Pa. Department of Health in fall of 2009" and that the facility has been having a 98 percent occupancy.

One of the programs being implemented at BMHS is a "No One Dies Alone" program.

Details were given by Lisa Johnson, media specialist for the health system.

She said it was intended to launch the program in early June, but events forced it to be kicked off sooner.

She explained that several nights ago, she received a phone call from a nurse supervisor who said someone was passing away and had nobody with them. Johnson called a volunteer in the No One Dies Alone program, who summoned pastoral members.

Johnson told the board that the individual had people from the No One Dies Alone group with them from 7 p.m. that evening until they died at 6 a.m. the following morning.

She also noted that just this week another occurrence happened where the program was implemented.

"The personnel we have volunteering in this program are absolutely gems," Johnson said, adding that the nursing staff has also done a great job in having it function.

The program to benefit employees involves a fund that was set up in which $5,000 was placed. Harris said when an employee has a significant hardship or a life-changing event, money from the fund is used to help that employee.

He gave an example of an employee who was out on medical leave and exceeded the benefits. The employee, who was soon coming back to work, was in danger of having their car repossessed due to the lack of income.

A car payment was made to help the employee keep the car.

Harris said a committee was established to handle requests for funds distribution. In addition, he said that it is set up so employees as a group can make specific donations to the fund.

Also at the meeting:

Ÿ Gnaden Huetten Memorial Hospital received designation as a "Blue Center of Distinction" for knee and hip replacement by Blue Cross of Northeastern Pa.

Ÿ The Pa. Department of Health gave "deficiency-free" surveys to the Adult Behavioral Health this spring, Older Adult Behavioral Health this spring, and Palmerton Laboratory in 2010.

Ÿ Digital mammography was instituted in Gnaden Huetten Memorial Hospital successfully and now plans are being made for installation of such a unit in the Palmerton Hospital.

Ÿ In the past four years, there has been a recruitment of 37 new physicians to BMHS, in addition to a new hospitalist group.

Ÿ The hospital system has developed a successful workforce program with several regional colleges. Harris said at one time new nurses were hesitant to come to Carbon County but that has changed and they now look forward to working here.

Ÿ Special praise was given to Joan Hanosek for her dedicated work at the hospital.

Ÿ Rev. Robert von Frisch of Weatherly was named to a three-year term on the BMHS board effective July 1.