by Richard Uhlhorn
The Lake Chelan Community Hospital board of directors held a special meeting on Thursday, April 9, to discuss disaster relief funding from the Small Business Administration (SBA)
Chief Financial Offer Mike Ellis led the board through the steps that had already been taken with the finance committee, legal council and banks. “It is a first come-first serve program and late last week we made an application to get in line on Monday,” said Ellis. The decision to do this was with the hospital’s auditors, bankers, legal council and the administration.
The Federal Government is releasing $3 trillion dollars to help business to get through the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds will provide payment (loan) to keep staff employed, not laid off. Debt forgiveness is also a part of the program. Ellis stated that 75 to 80 percent will be forgiven by the Federal Government. This program is available for employers with under 500 employees. LCCH qualifies for this loan.
Ellis said he needed a Resolution passed to proceed with the program. Chairperson Phyliss Gleasman asked how much money was involved. Ellis replied that it was for $3,681,000.
Ellis also stated that the bank already has clearance from the SBA to move forward in the process. The funding would be used specifically for payroll. CEO George Rohrich stated that the loan would be used only for this purpose. “Payroll would exceed the maximum, “he said.
Boardmember Jordana LaPorte stated that the funding would not be used for any non-allowable use. Her biggest concern was when the money would come in. “We have no idea of when this money comes in. Is the bank going to front the dollars.” Ellis replied that the bank would not be lending any funds without SBA approval.
LaPorte also said that at the end of the day, it is the watchdog that will prove you have used the funds as promised. Ellis stated that North Cascades National Bank did ask for backup payroll and that the funds had an exclusion of up to $100,000. It also only covers straight wages, not benefits.
The Board passed the resolution (#622) unanimously.
In addition to the SBA loan, LCCHC will continue to receive payment for services provided, including reimbursement from the Centers for Medicaid Services (CMS) at a rate of 99% though with the recent pause to Medicare sequester cuts due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, reimbursement from CMS will be at 101 percent.
The board also approved an interest free prepayment loan offered by CMS for an additional $4 million dollars. This loan advancement would be for services to Medicare patients and its repayment would be made back to CMS through Medicare patient visits.
Like many rural hospitals, Lake Chelan Community Hospital has been dealing with lower patient loads and, now the effects of COVID-19 which has had to make severe reductions and changes in the way safe care is provided to the Lake Chelan Valley.
With the community following the State and Federal Stay-At-Home Guidelines, the hospital and clinic has seen a major reduction in outpatient services along with the temporary closure of its Sanctuary Alcohol and Drug inpatient rehabilitation unit.
LCCHC continues to see patients in a variety of new ways through phone appointments, telehealth (video) appointments, and as needed face-to-face appointments for the safety of patients and staff.
The staff at Lake Chelan Community Hospital and Lake Chelan Clinic want the community to know that they are working harder than ever to provide the Lake Chelan Valley community the safest healthcare experience during these extraordinary times.