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Washington hospitals struggle financially

Valley Hospital.Spokane Valley
Courtesy of MultiCare
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A combination of factors is responsible for the state's hospitals losing nearly a billion dollars collectively during the first quarter of 2022.

Hospital officials in Washington say their companies are hemorrhaging money as they care for unusually high numbers of patients. They attribute part of that to Covid-related issues, part to other factors.

Spokane’s hospitals are not immune to the problem.

At a media briefing last week, the Washington State Hospital Association announced the state’s hospitals lost more than $900 million during the first quarter of 2022. Providence Eastern Washington Chief Executive Susan Stacey says rapidly increasing labor costs are part of that and so is the lack of care facilities for discharged patients.

“We recently just found a long-term care bed for a patient who was with us for 440 days. We’re housing just slightly less than 100 people today who are medically cleared for discharge who do not have a place to go," she said.

Stacey says that costs Providence between $50,000 and $75,000 a day in uncompensated care.

Alex Jackson, the chief executive for MultiCare in Spokane, says it’s important that people know its hospitals will continue to fulfill their missions.

“We’re dealing with these financial pressures, but if somebody’s really sick, I don’t want anyone to hesitate to access care," he said.

Jackson says demand for MultiCare services, especially in its emergency rooms, is up significantly over a year ago.