Community Update 3.5.2021: WhidbeyHealth Meets Financial Challenges Head-On

3.5.2021 @ 7:30pm


WhidbeyHealth is committed to continually informing our community about the financial standing of our island healthcare system and this press release provides an update about changes currently underway.

To briefly recap our current financial situation: WhidbeyHealth’s approved 2020 budget called for approximately $100 million in net revenue from our many health care services, with a surplus of 2.8% or $3 million, which was to be invested in needed capital improvements, and cost of living adjustments for our employees, which would have led to additional services to our community. Of course, this was before the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic. We have reported the impact of COVID-19 regularly at monthly Board meetings. As of January 2021, WhidbeyHealth’s response to COVID-19 has exceeded $3 million in unplanned expenses. In addition, WhidbeyHealth experienced a $12 million loss of net revenue due to closure of services during the initial months of the pandemic. FEMA support will offset some, but not all of these costs. It is easy to understand how our original financial plan has been devastated by the pandemic.

Increasing and sustaining our net revenue is always a priority. 88% of WhidbeyHealth’s income comes from healthcare insurance. We are continuously negotiating with insurance companies for higher reimbursement rates and struggle to get timely payments from them. Managing insurance reimbursement revenues is a major issue for every American healthcare system and we are not immune on Whidbey Island. We analyzed our financial situation compared to national trends in the healthcare industry, and we have identified several opportunities to strengthen our long-term financial position which will ensure continued quality care for our community. In addition to our continued negotiations with insurance companies, WhidbeyHealth has identified cost reduction as another priority to reach a sustainable financial position. We are reviewing all lease agreements and service contracts. In the very near future, some clinical care services in rented space will be relocated to other buildings that we own, allowing us to eliminate some rent expense.

Payroll represents the majority of our costs. One of the actions that we must take to continue to provide healthcare to our community is a reduction in our workforce. This was not an easy decision, as we know it will deeply impact members of our WhidbeyHealth family. Every WhidbeyHealth employee is truly valued and contributes to our organizational success. Senior leaders and managers have taken voluntary pay reductions and we have instituted a hiring freeze for all non-critical positions. We will prioritize those who volunteer for layoff and those who decide to take retirement. These actions are necessary steps for WhidbeyHealth to remain financially viable and available to continue to provide excellent patient care to our Island community close to home.

The entire leadership team at WhidbeyHealth is committed to making these changes to our organization to ensure that our clinical services will continue without a reduction in access to care, when and where you need it.

WhidbeyHealth continues to be our island’s leader in vaccinating family and neighbors. To date we are nearing 9,000 vaccine doses administered. Our Vaccine Clinic is operating 6 days a week, with more than 20 dedicated staff and volunteers involved every day, who ensure you have a safe and smooth experience.

Our commissioners, leadership and staff are committed to overcoming these challenges by being flexible and continuously evaluating opportunities to improve efficiencies and expand services to our community. We resolutely believe that we will emerge from these challenging times stronger than ever and appreciate our Island’s support.

We encourage everyone to follow and engage with us online via our website and Facebook. Meetings of the Board of Commissioners are open to the public and are recorded and posted on our website so that anyone unable to attend the meeting can stay up to date.

COVID-19 continues to be a major threat to our health. We encourage everyone to wear facial coverings, maintain social distancing and to wash hands frequently.


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