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Campbell County Health approves a new fiscal year budget hoping to continue to improve its finances

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Campbell County Health (CCH) recently approved its budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year, which projects $500,000 in losses over this period. This is a significant change after a net loss of $25 million the year prior.

“Once we factor in all non-operating revenue, we are expecting a slight loss for the year,” said CCH CEO Matt Shahan. “You know [looking at] the $700,000 profit and then we get to the board meeting on Thursday and it’s a $500,000 loss on the year. It wasn't a true $25 million cash loss to the organization. It was $20 million in cleanup and $5 million of loss [last fiscal year].”

There are many factors that have contributed to CCH’s financial woes, financial and otherwise.

“The majority of it was bad debt that moved into that debt, charity care, and waiting on payments,” he explained. “We've been waiting for so long that we now know they will not make those payments to us, the payers won't.”

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have also played a role, though there is currently only one patient hospitalized with the virus. But the residual effects are being felt.

Shahan said that charity care and bad debt aren’t necessarily associated with a certain group or segment of the local population but that there are those in CCH’s service area that are unable to afford healthcare.

“Being a nonprofit, that's something, charity care, you're required to provide it, but we know that there are factions of the community and [in] our service area that cannot afford health care, and so we know we're going to incur those costs. That's a big number for a hospital of our size. We've got to find a way to get those numbers down however we can,” he said.

Being fiscally responsible is something Shahan said CCH is adhering to with staff expressing a desire to better their financial state. The outlook has improved somewhat since earlier this year, when the CCH officialsindicated that the health system would be insolvent by 2026 unless major changes were made. But even with optimism that things are improving, there is still a lot that needs to be done to turn things around.

There have been departments that have made a profit, a sign of progress, though Shahan said it’s still too early to say what the financial picture will look like currently. But despite some improvement and a nearly break-even budget compared to last fiscal year, there’s still a lot left to be done in establishing a sounder financial footing.

“I would say the picture isn't rosy by any stretch of the imagination, but we're getting there,” Shahan said. “Some of the work we're doing with trying to invest some of the money we have in it, some of the cash we have into higher interest accounts, with less risk in this current volatile market. I think as we look forward, we're more on a growth path.”

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.

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