A recent study reported more than half of hospitals in North Dakota lost money last year.
In tonight's Eye on Health --- Gary Brode was in Watford City to find out why so many hospitals are looking at bad debt.
Critical access hospitals throughout North Dakota are seeing red. In fact, according to the NDHA 2012 Pulse Economic Impact Report, the profits may be at all-time lows.
(Daniel Kelly, CEO, McKenzie County Health Care System) "Our results last year of the study, reflected that more hospitals were losing money than historically been the case. Beyond that, the amount of loss that the hospitals are incurring is greater than it had been before."
Of the 36 critical access hospitals, 23 reported earnings in the red last year including McKenzie County.
Kelly believes patient care comes first, but says the hospital can be limited without adequate funding.
(Daniel Kelly, CEO, McKenzie County Health Care System) "A hospital, although it is a number of things. When the day is done, it is also a business and if you are going to invest that in people and equipment and infrastructure ... maintaining a profit is that bottom line that you need to have available funds to invest back.
(Gary Brode, KX Reporter) "In 2007 when Kelly arrived, the hospital was able to make a profit. Unfortunately, because the last few fiscal years has not been as kind, Kelly has needed to make changes to day to day operations."
(Daniel Kelly, CEO, McKenzie County Health Care System) "If we don't know what your insurance is and you're using our services, you'll pay a down payment up front. We have software services that verify the information you are giving us is correct. I wouldn't have dreamed of doing that several years ago, but given the nature of the business as we have it today, those are expenditures that we have had to go through."
The McKenzie County emergency room has seen its number of visitors double each of the last two years. Prompting Kelly to believe a new facility is needed to accommodate the influx of population. For now the hospital is making do as he says but the pressing issues will inevitably need to be addressed.
In Watford City, Gary Brode, KX News.