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Posted on Jul 21, 2016

Hospital to discuss putting levy on November ballot

The Quincy Valley hospital district on Monday will discuss whether to ask voters in November to approve a one-year, $1 million maintenance and operations levy.
The levy money would be used to help pay down about $3.5 million in warrants that the hospital has with Grant County as well as pay for hospital expenses, said Randy Zolman, chairman of the Quincy Valley Medical Center’s board of commissioners.
Zolman anticipates that a $1 million levy would have to be put before voters for the next five years to help pay down those warrants. State law allows a hospital district to request only a one-year M&O levy.
Estimates at this time, based off the current assessed value of the district, show that the levy rate would be about 31 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, or about $62 a year for the owner of a $200,000 home, Zolman said.
“If we can’t get (voters) behind this, this place is done,” he said.
Hospital commissioners are running up against a tight deadline. August 2 is the last day to file a resolution with the county that would put the levy on the November general election ballot.
The levy was briefly discussed at a special meeting of the hospital board on July 18. Commissioners met to approve a revised budget for this year.
If commissioners decide to proceed with the resolution, this will be the second such levy before hospital district voters in the past two years.
In November 2014, voters failed to pass a $2.2 million M&O levy that would have been used to help pay down those warrants. The levy failed to garner the 60 percent approval required; voters were nearly split in their opposition and support of that levy.
The hospital has been urged by county Treasurer Darryl Pheasant to put a resolution on the November ballot, Zolman added.
The hospital has made progress these past few months. After sending out a community survey, asking taxpayers what they want from their hospital, the hospital’s long-term care unit, called the North Wing, was closed this spring. People who returned the survey listed the emergency room and hospital clinic as the top services they would like to see retained.
The hospital in the most recent months has put its efforts into building up the SageView Clinic, which is the only positive revenue source the hospital has, said Jerry Hawley, hospital CEO. The emergency room loses about $1 million a year, hospital officials have said.
Since December, the clinic has had only one nurse practitioner serving patients at the clinic, Hawley said. Most recently, the hospital added two more nurse practitioners as well as a physician. Dr. Sophie Gomez, who specializes in internal medicine, came on board this week.
With the added staff and their certifications and specializations, the clinic once again can do physicals required by the Department of Transportation for commercial drivers as well as claims made to the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, Hawley said.
The clinic also will be moving to extended hours in a couple weeks; it will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The new providers now need to get into a “production mode,” said Don Condit, hospital board commissioner.
That means providers will have to see at least 14 patients a day, Hawley said. Currently, the clinic averages about 10 a day, he said.
Hospital officials expect to share their updates on Aug. 4 with a 28-member community advisory group that’s been established by the Port of Quincy to talk about the future of health care in the Quincy Valley. The group, which has had two meetings, is charged with brainstorming potential ideas of what sort of facility and services best serve the community.
Those ideas then will be shared with the community, said Brian Kuest, port commissioner.
Zolman stressed that for a tax levy to pass, it would need the support of the advisory group.
Glenda Bishop of the hospital’s medical staff services, told commissioners at the special meeting that she was excited by some of these recent actions the hospital has taken.
“We have a huge shot that we probably haven’t had in the last 24 months,” Bishop said.


— By Jill FitzSimmons,

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