Mattawa clinic finances concern auditor's office

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MATTAWA — The Mattawa Community Medical Clinic’s use of interest-bearing warrants prompted expressions of concern from the Washington Auditor’s Office during the audit of the clinic’s 2017 finances. Interest-bearing warrants can be issued by junior taxing districts - like the clinic, which is Grant County Hospital District No. 5 - that don’t have enough cash on hand to meet their obligations. The money is loaned by the county treasurer, and is paid back with interest. As of Sept. 24, the hospital district owed $498,345 to Grant County in warrants, said Grant County Treasurer Darryl Pheasant. That’s about $150,000 less than the clinic’s balance at the same time last year, Pheasant said. “While the district has made improvements, its financial condition continues to be a concern,” according to the report issued by the auditor’s office. The audit covered 2017 only. The audit report said the district generated operating revenue of $1,791,855 in 2017, but incurred operating expenses of $2,049,443. However the district had $373,730 in non-operating income, and as a result finished the year in the black. The clinic offers primary care, prenatal care, imaging and lab services. Its administrators are working to add services that will help improve its financial condition, said chief executive officer Dana Fox. A dental clinic opened in September, Fox said. District officials also received a grant to pay for a pharmacy, which would be the only one in Mattawa. It should open in 30 to 45 days, she said, and while its operation will make a difference in 2018, “the full financial benefits to the clinic will not be realized until 2019.” In addition, clinic officials plan to put a proposal on the ballot in February 2019 to increase the district’s tax levy, Fox said. A levy increase was rejected by voters in November 2017; it received 235 yes votes, 53.29 percent of the total. But as a revenue measure it required 60 percent to pass. Clinic officials also reduced the hours of a clinic medical provider, from full time to part-time, which meant the medical provider and his spouse weren’t eligible for medical benefits. That meant “a significant saving to the clinic,” according to clinic officials’ response to the audit report.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at education@columbiabasinherald.com.

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