Local hospital considers expanding tax base

Hospital experiences $10 million revenue loss; elective surgeries unable due to COVID-19 restrictions



About 55 percent of the revenue from elective surgeries is not coming in to the hospital due to COVID-19 restrictions.

ANDREA GONZALEZ, Evergreen reporter

Pullman Regional Hospital will consider expanding the hospital district in order to broaden its tax base, which is the area where people living in it can be taxed by an institution. This will be discussed during the Board of Commissioners meeting in June. 

Jeff Elbracht, PRH’s Board of CommisAsioners president, said PRH’s originally proposed bond, Proposition One, was turned down twice. The bond would have funded technology needs, as well as the expansion of some hospital services and spaces. 

Some of the feedback the board heard from people when the bond was proposed was that the hospital should consider expanding their tax base, Elbracht said. 

Megan Guido, PRH chief marketing and community relations officer, said there has been a consideration for some time about the expansion of the hospital district long before the COVID-19 situation.

There would need to be a majority vote for approval to pass the tax revenue, Guido said. 

Any individuals annexed in the area will vote on whether or not the hospital district will expand its boundaries, Elbracht said. 

He said the board have not discussed how big the area would be or how it would actually look like since it is a preliminary conversation. 

“It is still an exploratory option at this point, ” Elbracht said. 

The hospital is currently trying to find ways to make up for the financial impacts that COVID-19 had on the hospital, he said. It is estimated that there was a revenue loss of about $10 million because of COVID-19. 

PRH Commissioner Karen Karpman said the hospital is in a situation where they are running on a financial deficit. 

Elbracht said about 55 percent of the revenue from elective surgeries has not been coming in because of the restrictions put on by the state. The restrictions include not allowing hospitals to do any elective surgeries.  

Guido said there have been short-term pay cuts of about 25 percent for all staff during the months of May and June. 

Karpman said PRH Foundation officer Rueben Mayes has launched a COVID-19 fundraising campaign to offset the hospital’s losses.

The campaign raised about $600,000 and there are grants that the hospital has applied to in order to assist them with some operational expenses, which they have had to maintain in order to keep their employees at the hospital, she said. 

The CARES Act, which was passed by congress, is one of the grants that the hospital has applied for, Karpman said. 

Elbracht said COVID-19 will impact how the hospital will look at any future bond.