Levy will ensure OMC viability, chief says

Voter approval of Olympic Medical Center's 44-cent property tax levy in the Aug. 19 primary election will ensure the hospital district's long-term viability, chief executive officer Eric Lewis told the board of directors at its regular meeting last week.

"I feel really good about Olympic Medical Center's future. There's certainly a lot of work ahead of us but it's great to see this support," he said.

Lewis read the final vote tally from the Clallam County Auditor's Office that showed the levy receiving 11,292 "yes" votes or 53.5 percent.

"That's very good news and I just wanted to say thanks," Lewis said.

Voter approval means the district's property tax levy will increase from 11 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation to 44 cents per $1,000 for collection in 2009.

So the owner of a $250,000 home who was paying $27.50 per year now will pay $110. The $3.3 million collected from the levy equals 2.8 percent of Olympic Medical Center's $118.8 million annual budget.

It is the district's first levy increase in more than 60 years. The district's levy had one been of the lowest of any public hospital district in the state.

"As with all grassroots campaigns, the work of many people contributed to the success of the levy. There are too many people to name, but we thank them all," Lewis said.

The increased funding will help pay for the emergency room, medical equipment and education, a new birth center, doctor recruitment and retention and providing care for the uninsured and underinsured, he said.

The tax levy increase is the last of eight steps OMC has taken to improve its financial situation, Lewis said.

He said the others are cost management and improved efficiency, volume and revenue growth, quality control and patient safety, electronic medical records, doctor recruitment and retention, lobbying for increased Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement and pursuit of grants and loans.

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