Coronavirus

MOUNT VERNON — While Skagit Regional Health is expecting to suffer significant financial losses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, administrators for the health care provider say there are no plans for layoffs.

Chief Financial Officer Paul Ishizuka said he expects Skagit Regional Health to be down $3 million in net revenue this month as compared to March of last year.

At a presentation Friday to the Skagit Regional Health Board of Directors, Ishizuka said staff will need to be creative to help the provider rebound from this crisis.

“We’ll have to come up with new strategies to decrease costs and increase revenue,” he said.

Through Tuesday afternoon, there were 128 COVID-19 cases confirmed among Skagit County residents, according to Skagit County Public Health.

Thirteen were hospitalized or had been hospitalized, and three had died.

On Tuesday, Brian Ivie, president and CEO of Skagit Regional Health, said the health care provider’s business office is “second to none” in bill collection, and that Skagit Regional Health went into this crisis with cash on hand.

“We’re going into this in a good position,” Ivie said.

Based on the numbers from January and February, Ishizuka said Skagit Regional Health had been on track for a strong year.

“But that was then,” he said.

In preparation for a surge in demand for hospital beds, elective procedures and outpatient surgeries were postponed in mid-March.

Skagit Regional Health has stocked up on masks, face shields and other pieces of personal protective equipment, ordered several more ventilators, and instituted plans to retrain staff or compensate them for lost hours — all unbudgeted expenses.

However, in postponing those procedures, Ivie said the hospital lost a significant amount of expected income. In the two weeks since this policy went into effect, he said the hospital has lost half of its surgical revenue.

“The real financial impact is in the loss of revenue from high-return procedures,” Ivie said.

In his presentation to the board, Ishizuka said accepting a loss in revenue is necessary so the hospital can prepare for more COVID-19 patients.

“The principal concern is being overwhelmed with gravely-ill patients,” he said. “If we have a big loss in April, I guess we’ll have a big loss in April.”

Ishizuka said staff are reviewing the recent federal stimulus bill to see what costs Skagit Regional Health could be reimbursed. Skagit Regional Health’s recovery depends on how quickly the federal government is able to process those reimbursements, he said.

— Reporter Brandon Stone: bstone@skagitpublishing.com, 360-416-2112, Twitter: @Brandon_SVH

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