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Hospital predicts budget in the black

Estimating extra visits due to the new Snoqualmie Casino, Snoqualmie Valley Hospital is predicting 2009 will be a year of revenues in the black.

James Baldauf, controller for the King County Hospital District No, 4, told hospital commissioners Thursday, Nov. 6, that about two extra hospital emergency room visits are expected per day, thanks to the new gaming operation less than a mile away.

The new visits were a big part of changes, including increased swing bed use and growing tax revenue,

that mean the hospital could see a $2 million loss in 2008 become an $800,000 profit margin in 2009.

Baldauf said his predictions of added visits are on the conservative side.

“We’re only saying it’s going to add 2.8 ER visits per day,” he said. “We’ve got 4,000 or 5,000 people running around two blocks away, 24-7. It doesn’t seem a whole lot.”

“It’s really a crap shoot right now with the new casino,” said Commissioner Dick Jones. “We just don’t know.”

Based on numbers from other casinos, Jones agreed that the estimate of new visits is on the conservative side. Commissioner Fritz Ribary said that conservative estimate also improves his comfort level.

“What we have to do is we need to watch the figures and watch our revenue forecast, and make those adjustments early if they don’t come through the way we think they’re going to come through,” Jones said.

A public hearing on the 2009 hospital budget is slated for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 12, in the hospital’s Weyerhaeuser Room, at 9575 Ethan Wade Way S.E.

Last Thursday, the commission also approved an interlocal agreement with the Snoqualmie Tribe to provide medical services to Tribe members. The hospital is working with the Tribe as the Snoqualmies create their new regional Native American health center in the old hospital campus.

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