21 employees in the Grays Harbor Community Hospital business office, including billing, have been told that their jobs are being outsourced.
These employees have been told of issues within the department for some time, according to the hospital.
“The employees affected have been communicated with over a period of time as to possible outcomes of poor financial performance of the hospital and will continue to be counseled and assisted at their request.”
Nancee Long, Marketing and Public Relations Director added;
“GHCH invested more than $120k in the education and training of the business office staff alone since November of 2016”
The employees will be paid for the next nine weeks and will also receive severances dependent on years of service.
In a release, the hospital stated;
“After months of extensive analysis, Grays Harbor Community Hospital will begin subcontracting with U.S.-based AVEC Health Solutions for billing services beginning Jan. 12, 2018. This difficult decision will require a layoff of 21 employees, many of whom have been with the organization for many years.”
They tell KXRO that the change will be “cost neutral” with a goal “to ensure that patient billing is processed efficiently and accurately and to increase cash flow to the organization”.
“Hospital billing is a vital part of the financial success of an organization,” said Tom Jensen, CEO Grays Harbor Community Hospital. “We find ourselves at the point where we need to bring in a more specialized service to effectively attend to our patient’s billing concerns.”
The hospital states that other rural hospitals use similar services.
KXRO learned that Summit Pacific Medical Center also outsources their billing. The hospital district lists CBO Solution of Seattle as their billing office.
CBO Solution describes themselves as “Your outsourced Revenue Cycle Solution”
CEO Tom Jensen is quoted in the release, saying;
“We are sorry to lose these colleagues, but know this move is in the best interest of our patients,”
The hospital states that there have been concerns about billing delays and inaccuracies, and their hope is this change can remedy those issues and “shorten the billing cycle”.
In a statement from UFCW 21, they say;
“We believe taking money from Grays Harbor taxpayers and exporting it out of our community is bad public policy and represents a failure of management to develop the process and training to allow our employees to succeeded”.
“We believe exporting jobs and the money they spend in our local economy exacerbates our chronically high unemployment and puts increase stress on local business’s dependent on their purchases. Many of this employees have loyally worked at GHCH for over a decade and find this devastating.”
In previous discussions with GHCH, they told KXRO that numerous changes would be made after the start of the year to recoup costs lost in reimbursements from Medicare/Medicaid patients and the rising costs of medical procedures.
In these statements, they said this could include reducing staffing through layoffs, reduced hours, attrition, and outsourcing.
Previously, the hospital outsourced their Health Information Management department as well as announced a 10% reduction in salary for all supervisors, including Administrative staff.
Prior to 2010, the facility was consistently showing profits according to Tom Jensen in 2014.
He said at that time that a lot of the problems came after 2008 when local mills began closing and less people were under private insurance plans.
Changes that came earlier include becoming a Public Hospital in 2014 to take advantage of Sole Community Hospital reimbursement rates as well as announcing plans to pursue status as a 49-bed Sole Community Hospital.
Under the proposed 49-bed Sole Community Hospital status, the administration has said that reimbursement rates will even out to represent costs. This change will turn current inpatient beds into “observation” beds, which fall under a different pricing structure. This could bring additional costs to patients who use the services.
As of October 1, the hospital began operating as a Sole Community Hospital, although the process to become classified under the new designation is approximately 18-24 months from being fully implemented.
All billing concerns and payments can be addressed at either campus.
“This change will not affect patient care or services our community uses for health-related needs.”