- Associated Press - Saturday, May 21, 2016

SITKA, Alaska (AP) - Budget projections have Sitka Community Hospital with a positive bottom line in 2017.

Assembly members unanimously approved a $25.5 million hospital budget last week for the fiscal year that starts July 1, the Sitka Sentinel reported (http://bit.ly/258eu1l).

The budget predicts the hospital will have a balance of $3,245 in 2017.

Budget losses predicted as high as $1 million this year have scaled back to an expected $500,000 loss.

The hospital started paying back $1.5 million in city bailouts with a $100,000 payment last fall. The goal is to pay back $400,000 of that loan.

Hospital CEO Rob Allen said the hospital “picked up quite a bit of business” in May after a better-than-expected April and tough March. “We’ve set the stage for more than breaking even … and building reserves,” he said. “That’s the direction we’re taking.”

Allen says the hospital is looking to improve its financial performance by controlling expenses, among other methods. The hospital is reaching out to let other Alaska facilities know that Sitka has vacant beds for long-term care.

“It’s quite a process,” Allen said.

Sitka Finance Director Jay Sweeney said he’d like to see the hospital start building capital for future needs, and Allen agreed.

“Ultimately, there’s eventually going to come a time when there’s going to be a capital need,” Sweeney said. “And the city will be called on to assist.”

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Information from: Daily Sitka (Alaska) Sentinel, http://www.sitkasentinel.com/

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