WashCo Health Center in red

October 23, 2012

One in a series of hearings Monday on the Washington County 2013 budget showed the county health center is likely to experience a net loss of more than $1 million this year.

Total operating revenue was projected to be $18,166,317, but actual revenue for the past eight months is closer to $16.3 million.

Operating expenses are pegged at $17.916 million.

The number of employees at the 288-bed facility in Arden is 328, down from 340. As of last week, the patient census was 274.

“The census is down, but it’s down everywhere, in hospitals and personal care homes,” said Tim Kimmel, Washington County director of human services, who recently earned both state and federal licenses that enable him to be a nursing home administrator.

Of the county’s reimbursement, “insurance companies are making it more difficult because they’re cutting back, too,” Kimmel said.

Scott Fergus, county director of administration, commented, “This is where we do our public service because we’re taking care of people who can’t pay.”

Labor costs for 2013 and beyond are a question mark because the current contract expires at the end of this year. The county expects to begin collective bargaining Nov. 14 with members of the Services Employees International Union.

The health center experienced four years of operating in the red during the last decade but managed a turnaround in 2006 to garner a $1.8 million profit.

It has built up a $3 million surplus, some of which will be used to cover this year’s shortfall.

Also Monday, Kimberly Rogers, the new administrator of the Washington County Children and Youth Services agency, who reported for her new job last week, attended her first budget hearing here.

Kimmel said the agency hopes to hire four more caseworkers and a social work aide to reduce the existing caseworkers’ caseload, which stood at about 30 as of last week.

On Oct. 15, the state Department of Public Welfare downgraded Washington County CYS to a provisional license because of problems that became apparent during an annual licensing review.

The agency agreed to work on correcting deficiencies, and it hopes to attain a full license in January.

Barbara S. Miller covers politics, Washington County government and a variety of other topics for the Observer-Reporter. She is a graduate of Washington & Jefferson College, majoring in English and history. Follow her on Twitter @reporterbarb.

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