News

Reorganization delays Whidbey General budget

By Nathan Whalen

Staff reporter

The 2003 budget for Whidbey General Hospital was delayed two weeks to sort out a snafu in its information system and to reorganize in the wake of voluntary resignations.

“We’ve had some technical difficulties with our financial information system,” said Scott Rhine, the hospital’s CEO, at Monday’s board meeting.

He added that administration has also had to take time to reorganize after 20 people voluntarily resigned or took early retirement in a cost-saving measure.

Officials hope the resignations will save the hospital between $800,000 and $1 million. Rhine said hospital administration staff is still working out whether any replacements need to be hired.

Although he didn’t have any hard budget figures, it is estimated that the hospital will see a 9.8 percent increase in gross patient revenues over 2002.

Rhine said this will be accomplished by increasing revenue from services such as plastic surgery, osteoporosis scanning, and pulmonary rehabilitation.

The increase is needed because the hospital is expecting a 21 percent increase in charity and bad debts.

Rhine said for every dollar billed to Medicaid, the hospital is reimbursed between 15 and 20 cents; the balance is written off.

“As a public hospital, we have a responsibility and desire to serve all these patients,” Rhine said.

The hospital has to continue searching for revenue sources.

“That underscores the need to look at services that don’t rely on government funding,” Rhine said.

The draft of the 2003 budget should be ready to be presented to the hospital’s board of commissioners at the body’s Jan. 27 meeting.

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