Administrators at Grays Harbor Community Hospital in Aberdeen plan to cap the number of inpatient beds to become eligible for a better Medicare payout system. A press release from the hospital said that becoming a 49-bed Sole Community Hospital will increase reimbursement rates and help them to recruit primary care providers to the area.

Hospitals with the Sole Community Hospital designation under the Medicare program are entitled to enhanced Medicare payments, easier access to the 340B drug program, and favorable payments under the TRICARE program, among other benefits.

Spokeswoman Nancee Long said that the change will help them recruit primary care providers to the area, addressing a shortage. “We are well aware that Grays Harbor County’s primary care needs are not being fully met and take seriously our responsibility to assist in meeting the community’s primary care needs.”

Long said “Like many rural communities with high Medicaid and Medicare, we have a primary care provider shortage. In order to address these needs, GHCH is moving toward a 49-bed Sole Community Hospital status.”

The hospital will still have the same number of staffed beds, Long said they averaged 31 inpatients per day in 2016. “The 49-bed status will allow us increased reimbursement for primary care clinics and will provide a sustainable model by which to recruit and retain primary care providers.”


The following is a list of questions and answers provided by the hospital:

  • What does this change mean for the providers?
    • Providers will continue to deliver the highest quality of care to their patients.
    • Admitting patients to hospital inpatient care will require that the provider work more closely with house supervisors.
  • What does this change mean to the staff members?
    • Those involved in registration, nursing, billing, house supervisors and HIM will have new protocols.
  • Does this mean we are a Critical Access Hospital like Summit Pacific?
    • No, we will remain a Sole Community Hospital as designated by state and federal guidelines.
  • What can I say to those who don’t work at GHCH or HMG about this process?
    • We are still providing the same, high-level, quality of care to our patients but adapting our model for optimal federal and state reimbursement benefits.
    • This will not affect our ability to provide inpatient acute care.
  • What does this mean for HarborCrest?
    • We will still provide detox service but may move from an inpatient program to a residency program like other hospitals of our size. We are working closely with providers to solidify these details.
  • What if we go over our 49-bed allowance?
    • GHCH West Campus averages daily inpatient census for 2016 was 31. This is well under the limit of 49 beds.
    • Observation patients do NOT count toward the 49-bed allowance.
    • We will divert to other area hospitals if we were ever to reach the 49-bed limit.
  • When will this take place?
  • As of Oct. 1, 2017, we will be operating as a 49-bed Sole Community Hospital.

As we work together to make these exciting changes possible, we look forward to the amazing benefits that are ahead. Thank you for your continued support of Grays Harbor Community Hospital.

Our share on Facebook prompted a question an answer session with the current and former media relations managers at the hospital. I have embedded it below for as long as that lasts.