Island Hospital

Despite a loss in revenue and an increase in COVID-19 related expenses this year, Island Hospital remains in a position to move forward with many expansions in services and facilities in 2021.

“The hospital is financially sound, and we will continue to make good decisions on the needs of our patients,” Island Hospital CEO Charles Hall said.

The board last week unanimously approved the 2021 budget and a 1% increase on the levy, which is the maximum raise allowed without voter approval. The coming year’s 1% increase will yield an extra $31,107 from the district, all of which will go toward capital purchases. Funds raised by hospital levies go toward only debt relief or capital investments, such as expansions of equipment and facilities. It does not go toward operating costs or salaries.

COO Elise Cutter said the hospital “does sustain itself for the most part on our patient revenue” and “the increase to the taxpayer will be quite small.” The total projected revenue from taxes on the district for 2021 is about $5.7 million.

The early pandemic shutdown in March led to many of the hospital’s services temporarily closing for over two months, leading to a loss of $4 million in net revenue. Additional costs related to the pandemic, such as extra personal protective equipment, COVID-19 tests and staffing adjustments, swelled to $1.5 million.

“We’ve added screeners and other staff to make sure our patients are safe and our team is safe,” Cutter said.

The pandemic led some people on staff to retire or begin working from home, Hall said.

The hospital has many investments and expansions it is budgeting for 2021.

It is in the process to bring a tele-ICU physician on staff, a service that Hall said is in high demand, especially with small and rural hospitals. These physicians use cameras to remotely watch ICU patients, monitor vital signs and work with in-house staff. This would be a $650,000, two-year contract, possibly starting in early 2021, Hall said.

The Island Health and Wellness Center is also in the works on Commercial Street, across from the hospital, which “will provide preventative and chronic care education to the community,” Hall said.

The hospital is also looking to open an outpatient procedure center in 2022 to expand its specialty services and reduce operating room congestion. Those could include gastro-intestinal services, eye services, sports and spine, and behavioral health therapies, Hall said.

The hospital is also looking to expand on orthopedics and general surgery, Hall said.

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