Samaritan, nurses’ union approve contract

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Weisenburg

MOSES LAKE — Samaritan Healthcare finished 2018 with $6,705,218 in surplus, according to preliminary figures presented to hospital commissioners at the Feb. 26 meeting.

Commissioners voted 4-0 to approve a three-year contract with the union representing nurses.

Human resources officer Julie Weisenburg said nurses will receive a three percent raise each year for the duration of the contract. Director of nursing Becky DeMers said the contract also includes an increase in the salary paid to nurses who help train nurses still in school, called a preceptor program.

Weisenburg said the contract includes new language that takes into account a U.S. Supreme Court decision on dues collected by public sector unions. The previous contract required the hospital to collect dues unless a nurse specifically said no; now nurses will have to give permission before dues can be collected.

The nurses ratified the contact on Feb. 25, Weisenburg said.

The preliminary year-end financial review showed the hospital beat budget projections in most categories, including surgeries and obstetrics, family medicine and pediatrics at Samaritan Clinic, the emergency room at the hospital and the urgent care clinic. The orthopedic clinic was under budget projections for the year, and so was the diagnostic imaging department. Town said the targets set in the budget for those departments probably were too high.

The hospital district had $3,217,157 in bad debt for the year, and $3,319,907 in charity care expenses.

The busier hospital meant more expenses, Town said. Total expenses for the year were about $85,386,939. That reflected the need to hire additional temporary nurses and doctors, along with more supplies. Expenses also included the lease on an MRI machine; the hospital’s new MRI was supposed to be installed in 2018, but Washington Department of Health officials rejected the location. But “our increase in revenue far exceeded our growth in expenses,” Town said.

Hospital officials also paid for some expenses and services in December, rather than waiting until January, Town said, because the district could afford it.

Hospital officials hired new staff during the year, but, DeMers said, as the staff expanded the hospital’s business expanded.

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

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