Hospital board approves $49 million budget

Whidbey General Hospital recently approved the 2014 Operating Budget during a regular board meeting.

This budget, according to the hospital’s public disclosure officer, Trish Rose, is “a management tool, developed on projected volumes and expenses.”

The budget approved is $49,831,748, which is a $190,218 decrease from the approved 2013 Operating Budget. The most notable changes were in the professional and physician fee expenses, which each decreased by more than $1 million.

The professional fees decreased, according to Rose, because there are a number of consultants that will not be at the hospital for the last half of the year. These consultants are from Meditech, a system that was recently upgraded at the Hospital. Meditech is an information software used to help track patients’ medical records and to monitor ongoing treatment. Rose said the consultants were at the hospital to make sure the upgrade went smoothly, and the budget in that area is decreased because in 2013, the consultants were with the hospital for the whole year, instead of just half like this year.

The physician fees decreased because there will be less usage of locum physician services in 2014, according to Rose. Locum physicians are those who fill in for a regular physician when that physician is absent, or when a hospital is short-staffed.

Another major change in the budget was in the purchased services category, which increased by $1,223,889. This category includes expenses in computer licensing and maintenance contracts, as well as “other purchased services,” which can include security, management services, IT services and more.

The operating budget is the superintendent’s responsibility to develop, according to Rose, and was discussed in detail at the April board meeting, though it was not approved in order to give the commissioners time to get their questions answered.

The budget was approved in the May board meeting without being included on the agenda. Rose said in an email that there is no legal requirement for a regular meeting to have an agenda, nor that the board is limited to the items identified on the agenda, as told to her by the hospital’s attorney.