NVH bad debt, charity care jump in November

Rehab Center opening in Verbeck Building slated for Jan. 6

TONASKET – North Valley Hospital District reported strong financial results for October, but that news was tempered by a big jump in bad debt and charity care numbers for November.

Chief Financial Officier Helen Verhasselt reported at the Thursday, Dec. 12, Board of Commissioners meeting that the district held a net profit of about $391,000 for October. That includes a $472,000 profit for the Hospital Division and an $81,000 loss for Extended Care. That compares to a net loss of $148,000 for Oct., 2012.

For the year to date, the district is showing a $542,000 net profit, compared to a loss of $1.092 million.

The district still owes $807,151 in warrants to the county.

“Charity care and bad debt in November were taking a huge jump,” Verhasselt said. “November’s financials aren’t looking very good.”

November’s bad debt came to nearly $117,000 while charity care amounted to nearly $46,000. By contrast, a month earlier the numbers were about $64,000 and $66,000, respectively.

Extended care

Long Term Care director Linda Holden discussed the continued effects of inadequate Medicaid funding and the risk it poses to skilled nursing facilities. Holden noted that, according to a report released by the state Director of Reimbursement and Analytics, more than half of the state’s skilled nursing facilities – 118 in all – lost money last year. Lsst year the amount reimbursed for Medicaid patients fell short of costs by an average of $28 per resident per day, which will rise to about $34 per resident per day next year. Medicaid reimbursement rates haven’t been adjusted since 2007.

“In terms of the legislative activity and advocacy, it’s really critical that the board is involved with that,” said outgoing commissioner Lael Duncan. “When legislators hear from people who are employed by the facility, there is an automatic discount of what they’re saying because that’s their bread and butter. That’s the view of a lot of legislators. For us as board members, for the new board member (Teresa Hughes), there needs to be that advocacy. (At least) make phone calls to the hot line, write letters to the representatives and the representatives that are on the committees that impact us.”

Duncan thanked

Michel and Casey each took time to thank Duncan for her service as she attended her final meeting as commissioner. Duncan was defeated by Hughes in last month’s election.

“I’ll speak for the team for thanking her for her input and support,” Michel said. “We’ve been happy and sad together … we may not always agree with her opinion but we always respect the fact that she has one. We greatly appreciate your dedication and contribution to the district and what’s best for the district as a whole.”

Other business

The board approved the purchase of a $92,522 Zoll monitor/defibrillator. The current ones in use are at least 16 years old, old enough that service is no longer available for the obsolete models.

The board also approved a letter of engagement to hire Dingus, Zaracor and Associates to conduct the hospital’s annual financial audit and cost report.

Commissioner Herb Wandler reported that state auditors recently completed their exit conference after their every-other-year visit to the NVH facilities

“It went very well,” Wandler said. “They were very pleased with our progress on the warrants.”

Business Development Director Terri Orford reported that the rehab center, which will be relocated to the Verbeck Building, has a deadline for opening of Jan. 6.

The NVH Board of Commissioners next meets on Thursday, Jan. 9.

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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