TGH likely to need money

January 26, 2003 11:00 pm

By ABBY SOUZA

Tuolumne County supervisors will consider another request tomorrow to raise the roof on loans to Tuolumne General Hospital.

"My guess is they are probably going to end up close to $1 million over (budget)," said Deborah Russell, assistant auditor-controller for Tuolumne County.

So far, the county has loaned the hospital $5.5 million. This month, Russell said, it's likely the hospital will need a million more.

For the last three months, TGH has asked that its loan ceiling be raised, but has not needed the extra money. It's Russell's job to anticipate the hospital's cash needs and request them in $500,000 increments.

Unless the hospital brings in $1.3 million by Friday, Russell said this looks to be the month the extra money is needed.

There are many reasons the hospital is hitting the cash ceiling:

January has three payroll periods — a situation that arises once per quarter — and the one additional check for each hospital employee will use up about $500,000, said hospital Administrator Barry Woerman. "Because we are labor-intensive, when a month comes along with three pay periods, that takes up a lot of cash," Woerman said.

Also, the hospital has the post-holiday blues.

Collections have dropped because, unless it's an emergency, people postpone medical care over the holidays, so there are fewer patients to bill in January.

In December, the hospital brought in $87,125 a day. That number has dropped to $53,625 this month.

Additionally, the hospital is owed $1.3 million by the state and the federal government — in regular payments, matching funds and a California hospital lawsuit settlement — and the money hasn't come.

"If they would pay us, we wouldn't be hitting the ceiling," Woerman said.

Also, the hospital receives $2 million a year to help cover the costs of treating the indigent, and that money was used up in December.