From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 5, Number 36 - December 1, 2005
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

RHCB discusses numbers

by Bill Boender

In response to last weeks' editorial by Dr. David Burnett concerning operation and costs at the Marbleton-Big Piney Clinic, the Sublette County Rural Health Care Board issued a report showing operating figures for the four months of operation ending Oct. 31, 2005.

Dr.Burnett Estimates - Clinic Figures

Revenue $30-40,000 per month - $44,383 average per month

Costs $100-115,000 per month - $111,474 average per month

Loss $70-80,000per month - $67,091 average per month

Rural Health Care Board Director Randy Johnson noted that contract payments to Burnett, along with operating expenses, averaged $49,050 per month for fiscal year 2005. Deducting that figure from the loss shown leaves a cost increase of $18,041 per month under board operation. It should be noted that $60,247 in housing, travel and placement fees incurred over the past four months are not included in clinic costs as the district considers those to be administrative expenses and that they will not be continuing at that level. Other billing, management, legal and consulting costs which had been handled by Burnett are also not included. Revenue figures assume a collection rate of 80 percent of the total billed, which may be high.

Patient visits for the clinic are averaging nearly 400 per month as compared to about 750 per month last year before Wyoming Range Medical set up separate operations. A projected scenario presented by the board shows that it would take a substantial increase in visits to reach a break-even point in comparing current to prior costs.

Other numbers presented show that operation figures are running close to budget numbers. Budgeted revenues were listed at $186,667 while actual numbers are $177,530. Expenses were projected at $417,606 while actual costs are $445,894. This represents a budget shortfall of $37,425 for the first four months of this fiscal year.

While reviewing the figures at their meeting, several board members commented on the results. Board Member Mary Lynn Worl called it a "favorable financial report," while Board Member Walt Bousman noted that "Costs are surprisingly low" and Board Chair Jerry Jensen said "I was surprised how low it is to run the Marbleton-Big Piney Clinic."

While staffing is not yet at the desired level and several positions are still open, Johnson noted that everything is up and running and seems adequate for the current patient load.

In a later interview, Board Member Bill Barney noted that recent hospital visits have given him the opportunity to do some nurse recruiting.

With the upcoming transition of the Pinedale Medical Clinic to RHCB management, the construction of new facilities, the steady increase in numbers of employees and public concerns about these issues, the board will have a full plate for the foreseeable future.

Terms of three board members expire next year, which may generate an interesting battle for those positions, whether incumbents choose to run again or not. Rumors of a petition drive to disband the current board and set up two new boards continue to circulate.

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