HI-DESERT MEDICAL CENTER BLEEDING MONEY

HI-DESERT MEDICAL CENTER BLEEDING MONEY

A series of circumstances has our Hi-Desert Medical Center losing money at an alarming rate. Managing Editor Tami Roleff was said the Hospital Board heard the bad news at this week’s meeting…
The Hi-Desert Medical Center faces many challenges in the Morongo Basin. It’s a small, public hospital in an area where County hospitals are so far away that it becomes a “safety net hospital” for area residents. The Morongo Basin population skews “young,” meaning that 80 percent is under age 64, and only 12 percent of the population would qualify for Medicare. The remaining population relies on private insurance or MediCal, and an unfortunately high percentage is uninsured. These uninsured patients—many of whom can’t afford to pay for their care at all—place quite a strain on the hospital’s finances by using the emergency department as their primary care provider, since hospitals are required by law to treat all emergency department patients regardless of their ability to pay. The medical center’s Board of Directors heard at its meeting Tuesday night that its year-to-date operating loss for the last 11 months for fiscal year 2012 was more than $4 million. Even with non-operating income and expenses included, its year-to-date loss is about $2.5 million. Nearly every department at the hospital—except for labor and delivery and the Continuing Care Center—had fewer than anticipated patients, which contributed to the shortfall. For fiscal year 2013, the hospital expects to have a net operating loss of almost $2 million, despite removing a 2 percent merit increase for hospital employees from its budget.

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