Community Hospital losses at $12.4 million for 2018

Grays Harbor Community Hospital finished 2018 with a net loss of about $12.4 million, according to preliminary figures released Feb. 26 at the hospital board meeting.

About $3 million of that was charged to the cost of selling $35 million in bonds in December. The bond sale was a refinancing plan to retire long-term debt, with an overall borrowing rate of 4.84 percent.

The year-end numbers show below-target income in just about every category — out-patient services (which includes revenue from the hospital-owned clinics), surgery, the emergency department and in-patient services.

The year 2018 was a difficult one for the hospital, operated by Grays Harbor Community Hospital District 2. It was characterized by substantial layoffs and operational changes suggested by Navigant, a consulting firm brought in at the suggestion of the hospital’s major creditors. Navigant is gone from the scene now.

There was more positive news to start the new year. January saw a net income of almost $122,000, and employee productivity measurements are at higher levels. The hospital’s goal is to be among the top 25 percent nationwide in a standard productivity model and it finished just below that.

“Since the bond refinancing, there has been a lot of enthusiasm and an uptick of positiveness,” said Hospital Board Chairman Michael Bruce. Last year the looming debt and prospect of insolvency created a “cloud” over the operation and the uncertainty made it difficult to recruit medical professionals, but the refinancing has diminished that concern, he said.

One possible bright spot is that the Legislature and Gov. Jay Inslee are expected to provide money in the state budget to increase the hospital’s’s reimbursement rate for Medicaid services to 150 percent of the standard rate.

Even at that, it won’t cover the actual cost of providing the services, hospital officials say.