Washington hospital will lay off staff, freeze wages to stay afloat

Garfield County Hospital in Pomeroy, Wash., needs to eliminate at least $125,000 in monthly expenses to keep its doors open, officials said in a Feb. 19 news release.

"The hospital is in a serious financial situation and have reached a point that if we do not make change today we will not be here in about 65 days," Julie Leonard, superintendent and CEO of the Garfield County Hospital District, said.

The local hospital district is taking drastic measures to save the hospital. A wage freeze, layoffs and other cuts will take effect March 1. It's unclear how many employees will be affected by the layoffs, but each department will reduce their staff, according to the news release.

The hospital is also scaling back outpatient hours and eliminating Saturday lab and radiology services.

Ms. Leonard cited several reasons for the hospital's financial troubles, including billing problems and dwindling patient volume.

"The problem is that our services are down, we do not have the patient base or referrals that we had in the past," she said. "The new electronic medical records system we brought in has not perfected the billing process for the permanent swing program for Medicaid and Medicare. Therefore; we have been unable to fully bill for the permanent swing patients in the program."

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