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Hospital gets good financial news

POMEROY–Financial good news came to the Garfield County Hospital District Board (GCHD) when Jim Heilsberg, GCHD Chief Financial Officer, presented the 2021 budget at the meeting on November 2, stating it will be much the same as 2020 with one major difference, revenue will be mostly come from tax revenue.

Heilsberg reported the GCHD received a higher-than-usual amount of grant money in 2020, but the expected source of revenue for 2021 will be mostly tax revenue. The GCHD will begin collecting tax revenue from the special levy approved by voters' last spring. The new contractual relationship with Allevant Solutions is also expected to bring in more Medicare swing-bed patients.

Expenses for 2021 are also projected to be similar to those in 2020, with a decrease in contractual/professional fees through eliminating the use of agency staffing, but an increase in labor costs and health insurance costs. Heilsberg said they will still seek grant revenue in 2021, but the amount cannot be included in the budget at this time. He is also confident with the new CT scanner in place, it will be a large source of revenue, but that also has not been included in the 2021 budget. The final budget will be presented at the December meeting of the GCHD Board.

Steve Cannon, Commissioner and Finance Committee Chairman, described the financial position of the GCHD at the end of 2020 as an "overall good picture." After a comparison on rates being paid by "self-pay" residents at the GCHD with those being charged at surrounding area long-term care facilities, the GCHD rates were at the low end of the range. The finance committee has made the recommendation to keep the current rates at the GCHD steady for the next year. The current status of the GCHD finances is 306 days of cash on hand, which Cannon credits to higher revenue in all departments, and the excellent work by Heilsberg keeping the GCHD on the conservative side. He is also hopeful that the addition of a CT scanner will be an important source of revenue, citing that 133 referrals for CT scans at other locations have been made by the GCHD so far this year.

Patient visits to the clinic are on the rise, partially because of the addition of Dr. Iacobelli, who is bringing in new patients. A new service at the clinic being planned for a start in February is a telehealth program for cardiology patients. The service will be offered through the Northwest Rural Health Network, of which the GCHD is a part. Local patients would visit the Pomeroy Clinic, where staff would assist a cardiologist in Pullman, who would be connected through the telehealth system. The patient would be billed through the GCHD, which would in turn pay the cardiologist a flat fee, giving the GCHD a portion of the revenue.

Co-CEO Mat Slaybaugh reported that the new pharmacy program started in July, and fully operational since August, has averaged a $10,000 per month revenue for the GCHD "without having to do much on our end."

Co-CEO Jayd Keener also reported that the GCHD has been selected by the State to be part of the COVID-19 first round of vaccine distribution. They will be required to be ready for distribution by mid-November, with a two-week notice, to qualify. The first phase of vaccines, however, will be reserved for healthcare workers, with members of the public included in phase 2.