News Column

Election Questionnaire: Public Hospital District 2, At Large Position 1

July 15, 2014

The Daily World, Aberdeen, Wash.



July 15--TIM HOWDEN

Tim Howden, of Aberdeen, is Grays Harbor Community Hospital's former chief financial officer, retiring from the post earlier this month. He has worked in healthcare finance for 37 years -- 27 of which were spent at Grays Harbor Community Hospital. He worked as the hospital's chief financial officer for seven years.

Some Grays Harbor citizens have argued that parts of the county -- such as Ocean Shores -- are under-served by Grays Harbor Community Hospital. Do you see that as a problem? How would you fix that issue?

There may well be areas of the district that believe that they are underserved by the hospital. As a commissioner of the entire district, I believe that it is both necessary and prudent to perform a financial analysis of any proposed expansion of services to determine if that expansion is viable and the best use of the district's limited resources. If the analysis were to indicate that a proposed service is financially viable, then it should be entered into. Alternatively, if a proposed service were to be a drain on the district's resources, it should not be entered into.

Will becoming a public hospital district do enough to stabilize the hospital's finances? Does more need to be done?

I believe that becoming a public hospital district, with the increases in revenue and reimbursement through the Sole Community Hospital Legislation, would be enough to stabilize the hospital's finances under the current set of rules and regulations.

However, Federal and State representatives and regulators change regulations and laws. Frequently. While those changes are well-intentioned, they often have unintended consequences or carry with them unfunded mandates that either increase cost or reduce reimbursement.

Additionally, my belief that the public hospital district would stabilize the hospital's finances is predicated on the assumption that the economic base of the district does not deteriorate and the hospital's mix of patients who do not pay full cost does not increase.

Many Grays Harbor citizens believe that there is a shortage of healthcare providers in the community. As a commissioner, how would you change the situation?

The major shortage is in the area of primary care providers. Certain major things, such as the local economy or Federal and State payments to providers, are beyond the ability of a commissioner to control.

As a commissioner, what I can do is to direct administration to recruit physicians who want the life-style the district has to offer and to approve the use of the district's resources to subsidize the provider's income.

Coupled with this, I can direct administration to employ mid-level providers and educate the public that for certain medical issues, a mid-level provider is an excellent source of care.

Robert Torgerson's name also appears on the ballot. Torgerson, chief of the Aberdeen Police Department, has yet to return his questionnaire to The Daily World.

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(c)2014 The Daily World, Aberdeen, Wash.

Visit The Daily World, Aberdeen, Wash. at thedailyworld.com

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Source: Daily World, The (Aberdeen, WA)


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