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Rural Hospitals, Including Omak, Hang On; Wait For Government Aid

Courtesy of Mid-Valley Hospital

Rural hospital administrators in the Northwest are waiting to see if federal coronavirus aid will be coming their way. For some, it could be the difference between staying open and closing their doors.

At Mid-Valley Hospital in Omak, CEO Alan Fisher knows he doesn’t have much financial cushion.

“Today, for example, we have 10 days cash on hand. If the money stops we’re in trouble. It’s just like a lot of other rural hospitals that are out there," Fisher said.

With Governor Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home order, elective surgeries and other non-essential medical procedures were halted.

“Elective surgeries, for us, contribute $500,000 a month to the bottom line. That revenue stream, right now, is not there, which puts us in a financial bind," Fisher said.

Even traffic in the emergency room is down.

Fisher says government help, through the federal CARES Act, is on the way, but not as fast as he wishes it would come. He doesn’t know yet how much Mid-Valley will receive, but he figures a million-and-a-half over the next three months would be sufficient.

He says the hospital has already received state coronavirus money, but it was only enough to tide the facility over for a short while. Whenever and however the aid comes, Fisher says closing the facility’s doors is not an option.

“No, that will not happen. By managing the accounts payable and matching that with what we know is coming in, we’re going to exercise extreme fiduciary responsibility that this will not happen," he said.

Fisher says Mid-Valley hasn’t laid anyone off yet. Some people are taking leave. Some have been redeployed to other parts of the hospital. He’s calling on the community to rally behind the facility and help develop a solution that will help Mid-Valley to keep operating.