NVH Board approves preliminary budget

Tax credit gets the nod as well

TONASKET – The North Valley Hospital Board of Commissioners approved the hospital’s preliminary 2013 budget at its Thursday, Nov. 8, meeting.

Presented by acting Chief Financial Officer Helen Verhasselt, the budget projects total operating revenue at just over $22.5 million, including nearly $21.2 million in net patient revenue. Total operating expenses are projected to be nearly $23.2 million, while other income, (primarily $840,000 in levy revenue) will push the overall balance sheet into the black, with a projected net income of just over $413,000.

Those numbers are for the combined Hospital and Long Term Care divisions.

“We looked at what our current volumes are,” Verhasselt said. “We were budgeting at our current levels for next year.”

One area where the budget anticipates an increase in volumes is through the VA clinic. The hospital receives a set amount for each veteran that is enrolled and seen in the clinic throughout the year.

“To be able to focus the Tonasket clinic on the VA, we were focusing on increasing the (number of enrolled veterans) by 25 vets per month.

The budget also factors in making continued progress on the hospital’s warrants (low-rate loans for operating expenses from Okanogan County).

“We anticipate the warrants being at $1.7 million at the end of this year,” Verhasselt said. “Hopefully they’ll be a little less than that, but that’s the realistic number.

“By the end of next year, the county wants us to be down at $1 million,” she added later. “This will get us pretty close. We’re still working on some areas where we can control costs, reduce expenses, streamline things and try to increase volumes in some areas.”

The hospital board also approved its plan to provide a tax credit for taxpayers who live within the hospital district. Patients can receive a discount on hospital services equal to the amount of property taxes paid into the hospital district during the previous year, up to a maximum of $500.

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2013, patients can complete a short application (which requires a copy of the tax bill) to qualify. The program will be reviewed after a year to determine its effectiveness and affordability. The program is designed to encourage local residents to utilize North Valley Hospital’s services, rather than driving elsewhere, and increase its patient volumes.

The board also approved a request by Director of Ancillary Services Noreen Olma to replace its chemistry analyzer, which typically is replaced through a lease program every five years. Olma said the increased cost of the equipment should be largely offset by the ability of the hospital to do more tests in-house (instead of at Mid Valley Hospital or in Spokane), as well as a decrease in the number of service calls compared to what the current analyzer is requiring.

The North Valley Hospital Board of Commissioners is next scheduled to meet on Thursday, Nov. 29, at 7:00 p.m.

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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