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Coulee Medical Center ER and Walk-In Care

Monthly loss felt like good news to hospital


After losses totaling more than $1 million in the two months prior, June’s negative nick of just $48,000 felt like very good news for hospital leaders Monday night.

“The corner is turned,” commented Commissioner Geary Oliver following a report on the hospital district’s finances at Monday night’s meeting of the Hospital District 6 commissioners.

In her report, Interim Chief Executive Officer Debbie Bigelow said the hospital has worked to reduce expenses to meet declines in revenue. The loss of income has been associated with the loss of primary care provider availability stemming from a months-long conflict with the former administration.

She noted Coulee Medical Center has paid out $276,000 less in salaries this year than through the same period in 2013. Several executives left the hospital with either no replacement or their duties assumed by less expensive employees.

“I never thought I’d see the day when I said, ‘Yay, we only lost $48,000,’” Bigelow said.

CMC recorded a loss of $565,000 in May, followed by April’s loss of $452,000.

After deducting discounts for insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid, charity care and bad debt, CMC brought in nearly $1.7 million in patient revenue in June, for a year-to-date total of nearly $9.2 million, under by almost $1.2 million for the same period in 2013.

The hospital has operated on almost $292,000 less expense than a year ago.

Adding health care providers is seen as the way to remedy the financial situation as well as the long wait times for patients who can’t get appointments soon enough.

Bigelow said the hospital’s recruitment team is working hard on that problem and is “very close to snagging some really wonderful people.” She said offers were just sent to four prospective providers.

CMC also just hired five new nurses, whose employ will cut down on the more expensive practice of retaining contracted nurses.

Commissioners approved an agreement to buy physical therapist Rick King’s practice and put King on staff. CMC will rent the building that Grand Coulee Physical Therapy is housed in for $2,500 a month and pay King a salary of $115,000 a year, plus a possible bonus “if he works his tail off,” Bigelow said. CMC will buy his equipment and other property for $75,000.

Oliver said the hospital should turn a profit on the deal. And Commissioner Clea Pryor said the acquisition was important because it will allow Medicare patients to get more physical therapy services, due to federal restrictions on private practices that won’t apply to the hospital.

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