Out of warrants, for a day

TONASKET – It was, for now, only for a day, but North Valley Hospital edge its way out of warrants for the first time in years, as reported at the Thursday, July 10, Board of Commissioners meeting.

The district had $2,992 in the bank on July 2, and while the ups and downs of daily cash flow will have NVH slipping in and out of warrants for the short haul (the debt stood at $152,836 the day of the meeting), it underscored the progress NVH has made on that front in the past two years.

The hospital’s debt to Okanogan County was at $2.955 million in late August, 2012, and was still at about $2 million at this time last year.

NVH Administrator Linda Michel, who was away at a conference, said in her written report: “I am sure we will probably go in and out of warrants for some time, but wanted to thank everyone for their help in achieving this awesome milestone.”

Reports

Director of Nursing Tina Smith produced a report that covered more than two dozen metrics comparing North Valley Hospital to other state hospitals, Rural Healthcare Quality Network averages and Washington state goals. NVH compared favorably both to the state targets as well as to their peers in most every category.

“All in all, it’s one of the better surveys we’ve had,” Smith said.

The categories included such metrics as “Median Time from ED Arrival to Administration of Fibrinolytic Therapy for Eligible AMI Patients” to “Percent of Pneumonia Patients Receiving an Appropriate Antibiotic.”

A number of commissioners also recently attended conferences.

Clarice Nelson said that at recent conference in Chelan, she was encouraged that NVH’s recent focus on succession planning was on the right track.

“They mentioned that in the health care field the CEOs are retiring earlier,” Nelson said. “… Seventy five percent of the health care leaders are planning on retiring in the next 10 years. So it will be nice that we have this piece in place.”

She added that North Valley Hospital’s improving financial situation has it ahead of where many rural hospitals currently operate.

“In the U.S. 41 percent of rural hospitals operate at a loss,” she said. “There are 1,316 (Critical Access Hospitals, of which NVH is one), and 927 are unprofitable.”

She added that there was discussion about how hospitals may need to cope with cuts to Medicare reimbursement rates if proposed legislation becomes law.

“It’s more important now than ever that the board, community and leadership stay engaged in what’s going on and stay on top of these things and stay aware,” she said.

The Board of Commissioners next meets on Thursday, July 31.

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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