Published: January 3, 2020

Healthy hospital good for us all

Anybody inclined to look at Kootenai Health and wonder why the community hospital’s growth is both impressive and important could glance 35 miles west and get an answer.

According to a Dec. 10 article in the Spokesman-Review, Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane has lost $107 million in less than four years.

“It has been a declining trend,” Providence CFO Shelby Stokoe told the S-R. “It is not uncommon in the industry. If you look at other hospitals, they are seeing the same thing.”

Not if you’re looking at Kootenai Health.

While Washington state’s second largest hospital is battling financial loss, your community hospital is growing. Without exercising its ability to levy property taxes in Kootenai County, KH is constantly adding services, from state-of-the-art neonatal care to comfortable vans bringing in and then taking home patients who otherwise couldn’t get to the hospital. The van service is free.

Recent approval of an urban renewal district to help facilitate continued growth throughout the local health care sector, not just the hospital’s, has drawn criticism from various quarters. But without a partnership involving a handful of key players, Kootenai Health would likely struggle to remain competitive with medical facilities in the Spokane area. Is that what critics want? Is that what North Idahoans who wish to stay close to home for excellent medical care deserve?

This issue of The Business Journal of North Idaho features a look at how Kootenai Health has grown since Jon Ness became CEO, and how the urban renewal district might help the medical community address challenges.

Here’s wishing a happy and healthy new year to all.