Samaritan having good financial year

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MOSES LAKE — After seven months, Samaritan Healthcare continues to turn a profit, and is making more money than its 2019 budget projections.

Samaritan Hospital and Samaritan Clinic finished July with a $726,345 net income. Samaritan’s net income was $4,701,059 for 2019 through the end of July. But Chief Administrative Officer Alex Town said the hospital will be undertaking some initiatives in 2020 that may change the financial picture next year, at least temporarily.

Town reviewed the financial data for Samaritan commissioners at their regular meeting last week. Surgical admissions helped push inpatient revenue over the budget projections, Town said. Increases in outpatient revenue were driven by more visits than anticipated to the pain management department, emergency room, lab and imaging department.

Samaritan Clinic continues to lag behind its budget target, Town said, due to the way the budget was constructed. The clinic’s budget projections included additional medical providers, some of whom didn’t join the staff until the second half of the year. Clinic revenues are expected to get closer to budget projections as the additional physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners establish their practices.

Bad debt and charity care expenses for the year are $3,995,985 through the end of July.

Expenses were about 3 percent below budget projections for July, Town said, and are about 4 percent below the budget projection for the year to date. Expenses are higher than projected for temporary manpower (due to hiring temporary nurses), professional fees (due to hiring temporary doctors), and lease expenses (for the lease on the hospital’s MRI).

“We’re setting ourselves up for next year,” Town said. “It could possibly be a different picture next year.”

Earlier this year commissioners approved a proposal to replace the hospital’s existing medical records and billing system. Town said he has visited other hospitals that went through a replacement recently, and many of them reported a delay in getting out the bills. Delays in billing in turn led to delays in payment, which eventually was reflected in the bottom line.

In addition, in April commissioners approved a plan to build a new hospital. Construction is projected to start in spring 2020.

Other hospitals established lines of credit while they were replacing their billing systems, and had to use them, Town said. Samaritan officials are trying to build enough cash reserves so they won’t have to do that, he said.

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

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