Good August for Samaritan Healthcare

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MOSES LAKE — The good financial news for 2019 continues for Samaritan Healthcare.

Chief administrative officer Alex Town said August “happened to be a really good month,” which bucks the traditional trend of hospital utilization. Usually the hospital and clinic see fewer patients during the summer and fall, and business increases in the winter.

Net income for August was $864,478 and is $5,565,537 for 2019 through the end of August. That’s well above budget targets, both for the month and for the year, Town said. The financial results reflect more business, and also investments that are performing better than last year, Town said.

Inpatient revenue was slightly below the budget target in August, which Town said was due to doctors and other medical providers taking vacation. That meant obstetrics and general medical admissions were below expectations.

Outpatient revenue was higher than expectations. That was due, Town said, in part to expansion of the pain management department at Samaritan Clinic, higher than anticipated use of the emergency room, along with more use of the laboratory, diagnostic imaging and pharmacy.

Total expenses were one percent over the budget target for August, but are three percent under budget for the year. More patients have required more staff. Town said the hospital has an average of 26 or 27 patients per day, which is a lot higher than anticipated.

The hospital district has been adding more doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners, Town said, and all of them need more staff as well. Even with the extra staff the hospital has had to hire both temporary physicians and nurses, Town said, which adds to expenses. Hospital officials have added more locations, including a new clinic near Patton Boulevard, and those costs are reflected in the higher expenses.

Hospital officials plan to install a new billing and medical records system in 2020, and Town said some of the expenses connected with that are beginning to show up in the budget. The transition to a new system is expected to have an impact on hospital finances. Billing could be delayed while employees become familiar with the new system, Town said. The month to month finances are positive now, Town said. “Next year, when that EMR (electronic medical records) kicks in, that is going to be different.”

Bad debt and charity care expenses were $463,047 in August and are $4,459,032 for the year to date.

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

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