Hospital to explore adding urgent care center
Commissioners at Quincy Valley Medical Center have directed staff there to begin investigating whether the hospital should add an urgent care center to its clinic.
Commissioners also will explore the concept of providing low-cost, diagnostic primary care services through a “concierge” or RediMedi model. Both require patients to pay a monthly membership fee.
The new ideas are coming from a four-hour board retreat held earlier this month, when commissioners gathered to define a long-term strategy for the hospital, said Randy Zolman, chairman of the hospital district’s board of commissioners.
From the meeting, commissioners also decided to add more tele-health specialty services through potential partnerships, affiliations or connections with larger medical facilities. The hospital, for example, currently offers tele-stroke services, where patients meet with a doctor via the Internet, through a partnership with Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane.
Commissioners spent time analyzing the financial status of the medical center. They are also asking the CFO to provide a variety of financial information on a more regular basis so they can make quicker, more informed decisions. The information includes updated income and expense information provided every 15 days.
“We’re only trying to become more informed so we can try to make better decisions,” Zolman said.
Meanwhile, the hospital in March recorded its first profitable month of the year thus far. The hospital made a profit of $5,865. The first two months of the year have been hard on the hospital, which overall is at a $478,715 loss so far this year. However, patient visits typically pick up at the hospital after March.
Coming off such a rough start to the year, the hospital’s registered warrants were at $3.2 million last week. However, with first-quarter taxes due this week, that was expected to go down the first week of May, Zolman said.
In more financial news, the Washington State Auditor’s Office, in an audit report for Jan. 1, 2012, to Dec. 31, 2013, warned that the hospital district needs to re-evaluate its strategic plan “to address key financial impacts such as the increase in revenue write-offs and bad debt expense and its reliance on borrowing money to fund ongoing operations.”
The district attributes the increase in its registered warrants to lower Medicare reimbursement rates and an increase in bad debts due to nonpayment of patient accounts, according to the report.
Revenue write-offs and bad debt expense was about $6 million at the end of 2013, the highest it has been in the past five years, according to the audit. In comparison, revenue write-offs and bad debt expense was at $3.1 million in 2010.
In 2013, the hospital operated at a loss of $1.6 million, according to the report.
In response to the audit, the hospital district wrote that steps have been taken to reduce its reliance on borrowed funds, including the elimination of the surgery program. Within the next six months, the district is anticipating additional cash flows, accelerated collection efforts and an increase in property tax revenue, which will help lower its warrant line.
— By Jill FitzSimmons, firstname.lastname@example.org