Samaritan projected to finish 2017 with a profit

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MOSES LAKE — The year-end financial review is pending, but preliminary numbers from December show Samaritan Healthcare turned a profit for the month and had a profitable 2017.

“December was a very good month for the hospital,” said Adam Niehenke of the hospital’s financial department. Net income in December was $1,302,309, and for 2017 net income was $5,020,237. Both are over the budget target.

Inpatient revenue (people staying in the hospital overnight or longer) was 3.9 percent over the budget projection, Niehenke said. Overall admissions were higher than the December budget target as well. “We had a lot of surgical admits in December and we also had patients staying longer than we would expect.”

Outpatient revenue (patients that are treated but don’t stay) also increased, 4.5 percent above budget projections. “This was due to our orthopedic surgery volume during the month.”

Total operating income for December was $1,028,896, and for 2017 it was $2,012,236.

Pending the final financial review, the hospital experienced a 14.5 percent increase in medical admissions, said chief executive officer Teresa Sullivan. The hospital’s average daily census (the number of patients in the hospital on any given day) also increased, she said.

However, “we had a drop in general surgeries, and OB/GYN (obstetrics-gynecological) surgeries. This was due to a loss of surgeons that we didn’t expect,” Niehenke said. Even though outpatient orthopedic surgeries have increased, it’s not enough to offset the loss in general and obstetrics-gynecology surgeries, he said.

Board member Tom Frick asked about the surgery department, and why surgeries have declined. Sullivan said two of the hospital’s surgeons left Samaritan, one in general surgery and one in obstetrics-gynecology.

In addition, “the trend in surgery has been more and more toward outpatients for many years,” Sullivan said. “So it’s a possibility – I’m not saying for sure – you might not see the same amount of inpatient growth that you would’ve seen in previous years because more and more cases are moving toward outpatient.”

Revenue at Samaritan Clinic also beat the budget target, by 27 percent for December and 6.3 percent for 2017, Niehenke said. Clinic administrators have added more doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners and medical providers who have been employed for a while have more established practices.

Samaritan had to pay back about $1.6 million to the state in December, the result of a review of qualifying charges in previous years. Niehenke said most of that payment was offset by other savings.

The hospital is busier, which means expenses are higher, too. But in December and for the year, expenses went up less than revenue. Expenses for December were 9.2 percent above the budget projection, and expenses for 2017 were 4.1 percent over budget.

For 2017, bad debt and charity care was $5,518,030, about 3 percent of gross patient revenue, Niehenke said.

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

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