August shows mixed results for NVH

VA clinic enrollment growing steadily

TONASKET – The North Valley Hospital district showed a loss of about $100,000 for the month of August, but showed volumes beginning to trend in the right direction and a reduction in warrant levels, according to acting Chief Financial Officer Helen Verhasselt’s report at the Thursday, Sept. 27, Board of Commissioners meeting.

Verhasselt said the year-to-date loss was about $660,000, split nearly evenly between hospital and extended care divisions.

The best news, Verhasselt said, was that the warrant level stood at $2.27 million as of Sept. 26 after starting the month at $2.8 million.

“The good news is that our volumes are increasing,” Verhasselt said. “Our swing bed, surgery and lab volumes increased, and compared to last year we have an increase in our swing bed use and the number of newborns. Extended care has been very busy, too.”

Extended care was running at an average of about 56 residents, with a capacity of 58. Assisted Living, however, averaged just 24 residents “and even if we filled to capacity for the rest of the year we wouldn’t break even,” Verhasselt said.

One factor in improving the profitability of those facilities is ensuring that the full amount of Medicaid reimbursements is captured.

“Right now we have the second-lowest reimbursement rate in the state,” Verhasselt said. “To raise that we need to document absolutely everything to capture everything that we’re doing. We’re providing good care, but we’re not getting (financial) credit for the things we’re (already) doing.

“We could break even if we can get up to those higher rates.”

Meanwhile, the VA clinic is approaching the break-even point as Noreen Olma reported 26 initial physicals performed in September, as well as 22 added to the rolls in August. There are 512 veterans registered in the Tonasket clinic.

“We’re catching up on our annual physicals … we’re seeing almost 10 veterans a day. We’re getting where we want to be.”

Also, Commissioner Lael Duncan discussed her visit to Washington, D.C., where she met with Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray to discuss the red tape involved with credentialing VA physicians and nurses.

The NVH board of commissioners next meets on Thursday, Oct. 11, at 7 p.m. in the hospital administration board room.

VA clinic enrollment growing

About Brent Baker

Brent is a reporter for the Gazette-Tribune. Prior to working at the G-T, he was the sports editor for Sunrise Publishing from 2000-2005 in Michigan. He subsequently owned and operated Buckland Media, a high school sports website, in Michigan until 2010. He and his wife Kim, who have an adult son, moved to Tonasket in 2010. Brent started work at the G-T in 2011.

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