WhidbeyHealth commisioners met in the hospital’s new conference room at Monday’s board meeting. (Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group)

WhidbeyHealth commisioners met in the hospital’s new conference room at Monday’s board meeting. (Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group)

Hospital suffers budget blow

WhidbeyHealth suffered an unplanned budget hit this year, making September “not such a good month,” Ron Telles, chief financial officer, said at a recent meeting.

Additionally, patient visits to clinics dipped and fewer-than-average surgeries took place, meaning not as much revenue will be coming in.

“There were times we’ve had no surgeries scheduled but we still have to have (surgery) staff,” Telles told the board of commissioners that oversee Whidbey Island Public Hospital District, which includes the medical center and seven clinics.

Telles regularly reviews expenses and revenues and he charts in-patient stays, surgeries, clinic visits and other data to show at monthly board meetings.

The health system’s cash on hand is down to $6.7 million from an average of $11 million for several reasons, he said, including $300,000 in unanticipated monthly costs to outsource pharmacy drugs needed for cancer patients.

“It’s just a lot more expensive to buy them than to make them ourselves,” Telles said. “We’re doing well controlling our costs. It’s the uncontrollable we have a difficult time with.”

After a piece of pharmacy equipment required for proper ventilation was deemed a code violation, the hospital began ordering the cancer drugs. A new ventilation system couldn’t fit into the pharmacy department located in the hospital’s older section, so an entire new pharmacy was built into the first floor of the new wing.

It just opened, along with a new conference space called the Robert and June Sebo Health Education Center.

WhidbeyHealth is also catching up to a new government requirement involving retired employees eligiblity to purchase benefits through the Public Employee Benefit Board, PEBB.

“What this new standard did was to say that all organizations that are involved with the PEBB have to book a liability to their own books of record to reflect the estimated amount that will be paid, through the PEBB, for these liabilities,” said Jennifer Reed, WhidbeyHealth controller. “This is a non-cash recording that will never be paid by WhidbeyHealth.”

WhidbeyHealth CEO Geri Forbes explained that the hospital started making its own chemotherapy agents in October as soon as the new pharmacy opened.

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