WhidbeyHealth still short on cash

A persistent decline in inpatient visits is contributing to low cash reserves for the Whidbey Island hospital district.

WhidbeyHealth Controller Jennifer Reed told board commissioners Monday that the district had 14 days of cash on hand for operating expenses. At one point, this number dropped below 10 and CEO Ron Telles authorized use of a line of credit to boost it back up, Telles said.

“These are serious times,” he said. “These are serious issues.”

There was a small increase in revenue in May, but the number of days patients spent at the hospital continued to drop. There was a brief increase during flu season, then the numbers dove again after March.

In about a month, the Whidbey Island Public Hospital District is expected to get a large loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture loan program. The money will be used for infrastructure improvements to the original hospital building and to pay for cost overruns of the new wing.

However, Telles said with an average of only about 10 patient visits a day, more will need to be done to put the hospital district on stronger footing.

Ron Wallin, board president, noted that other hospitals are experiencing similar drops in inpatient visits. There are also a number of physician positions open, which he said is another shared experience with other hospitals in Washington.

“We aren’t unique,” Wallin said.

Those that do use WhidbeyHealth’s services seem to have mostly positive experiences for several categories of care, according to a survey, but the results also show that other institutions in the region still rank higher.

Linda Gipson, chief quality officer, shared Press Ganey Survey results that illustrated significant reductions in patient perception in the emergency department and medical practice. Hospice and inpatient results improved over the previous rankings.

Telles told commissioners that hospital leadership would have to focus on return on investment before expanding or increasing services provided. He said it was going to take “courageous decision-making” to improve the financial situation.

More in News

Commissioner will delegate vote for state senate appointment

Island County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson won’t vote on a state senate… Continue reading

Man files another public records lawsuit against Langley

A South Whidbey man has filed another lawsuit against the city of… Continue reading

Island County’s longtime hearing examiner is likely to be replaced

For the first time in more than 30 years, there will be… Continue reading

Navy SAR conducts medical evacuation on Olympic Peninsula

On Oct. 3, a search and rescue team from Naval Air Station… Continue reading

Another Narcan Night set for Oct. 24

Island County’s opioid outreach team is hosting Narcan Night 6 p.m., Oct.… Continue reading

Photo provided by Island County Sheriff’s Office 
                                A Langley man in a single-seat kit aircraft crashed Friday afternoon after his plane lost power while in the process of landing at Whidbey Airpark on South Whidbey.
Langley man injured in fiery plane crash

A 65-year-old Langley man was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle… Continue reading

I-976 could detour Island Transit buses

If passed, Initiative 976 has the potential to significantly diminish bus and… Continue reading

Newspaper writers win top awards

Two Whidbey News Group staff members received top writing awards at a… Continue reading

Larsen talks health care, housing at vets forum

A local congressman and a panel of veteran service providers fielded questions… Continue reading

Most Read