- Associated Press - Monday, December 22, 2014

SITKA, Alaska (AP) - Sitka Community Hospital administrators are seeking $1.5 million from the city in a nine-month line of credit to address a cash flow emergency.

Administrators are planning to go before the city Assembly on Tuesday to make a formal request, the Daily Sitka Sentinel (https://is.gd/Betqug ) reported.

“We have zero days’ cash on hand,” hospital CEO Jeff Comer said. “The perfect storm has hit, and we’re getting into cash crisis mode, which is why we’re going to the Assembly.”

City administrator Mark Gorman said the financial help would not be an outright grant.

“The bottom line is there is going to be a limited tolerance, on the part of the public, to subsidize operations at the community hospital, given the acute demands for funding in the Sitka School District and other services provided to the residents of this community,” Gorman said.

The loss in operations was $2.2 million between July 2013 and November 2014. There is a projected seven-month loss of $1.3 million for the hospital, Comer said.

Comer, who was hired by the hospital board in September, said the financial situation is not affecting the quality of patient care.

He said the city assistance will help the hospital through the next nine months.

The loan will require a “super majority” of five Assembly votes instead of the usual four votes required to pass a measure, according to Sitka City Clerk Colleen Ingman.

The hospital presently has a $500,000 line of credit. That amount needs to be increased to pay bills and continue operations, Comer said.

The hospital’s problems have been accumulating over the past year, according to Gorman and city finance director Jay Sweeney.

A number of factors are behind the financial woes, according to Comer. They include a low collection rate of the 87 percent on bills and problems collecting Medicaid payments due.

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

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