Samaritan in the black in January

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MOSES LAKE — Samaritan Healthcare got off to a good financial start in 2018, with net income more than double the budget projection.

January net income for the Samaritan Hospital and Samaritan Clinic was $521,683. “A good month as well,” said Adam Niehenke of the hospital’s financial department. That followed a December that also exceeded budget targets.

Inpatient revenue was 14.4 percent above the budget target, Niehenke said. “That was due to our surgical and OB (obstetrics) volumes.” Surgery cases were 47 percent higher than budget. Obstetrics cases were about 15 percent above the budget targets.

“That’s what’s driving most of the month, is phenomenal inpatient revenue,” Niehenke said.

The news wasn’t as good in the outpatient department. “We didn’t see nearly the volume. We saw overall procedures down, across almost every one of our specialties.” Outpatient revenue was about 3.3 percent below the budget target.

“Clinic revenue, on the other hand, was really, really good. We had 579 more patient visits than we budgeted for,” Niehenke said.

Bad debt and charity care for January was $321,050.

“This is one of those rare months where you see expenses below budget and revenue larger than budget.” But there were some areas where expenses were higher than budget. The hospital and the clinic are looking for more medical providers and nurses, and must hire temporary help to fill the gaps.

Board member Alan White asked if the need for temporary manpower would continue in the coming year. Chief executive officer Teresa Sullivan said she expected it would, at least for a while.

Samaritan offers podiatry treatment, and Sullivan said she expected temporary physicians to be necessary there for at least a few more months. “We are recruiting for urgent care,” but it’s still uncertain whether or not the hospital will find an urgent care physician, she said.

Hospital officials are trying to recruit additional nurses as well. “We’re doing some different things with that.” The goal is to reduce or eliminate the temporary help. “My guess would be we will continue to have temporary manpower. How much is going to be the question.” But staffing is a problem at hospitals statewide, she said.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at education@columbiabasinherald.com.

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