Business Briefs – August 2022

LifePoint publishes Trios, Lourdes benefit reports

LifePoint Health, parent to Trios Health in Kennewick and Lourdes Health in Pasco, reports both hospitals continued their missions in twin 2021 community benefit reports.

Trios Health welcomed new providers, expanded service lines and added 58 employees while investing more than $21.6 million in new construction, notably its new birth center, according to Jerry Dooley, interim CEO.

The hospital donated more than $21.1 million in health services to those in need. It paid $95 million in salaries, wages and benefits to more than 925 employees and contributed more than $200,000 to professional development and training.

The organization paid $13.2 million in local and state taxes.

Lourdes Health also welcomed new providers and expanded its service lines, said Joanie White-Wagoner, CEO. It invested $2 million in capital updates, including new lab equipment, a new information system, supply chain automation and clinical equipment upgrades.

Lourdes donated more than $12 million in services to those in need.

It paid $57 million in salaries, wages and benefits to more than 650 employees and contributed more than $300,000 to professional development and training programs.

The organization paid more than $7 million in local and state taxes.

The two organizations supported community partners including the American Red Cross, Benton Franklin Fair and Rodeo, Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties, Chaplaincy Health Care, Columbia Basin College, Grace Clinic and more.

Benton sheriff’s office collects school supplies

The Benton County Sheriff’s Office is accepting donations of new, unopened school supplies at its office after conducting Pack the Patrol Car events in Kennewick, Benton City and Prosser.

Donations are accepted at the Kennewick Justice Center, 7122 W. Okanogan Place.

School supplies will be distributed in Finley, Whitstran and Paterson.

High schoolers could  soon earn credit for  after-school jobs

State schools Superintendent Chris Reykdal recently announced a plan to allow students ages 16+ to earn elective credits toward their high school diploma through paid work experience that is verified by their school.

Nearly 30%, or 45,000–55,000, of Washington’s students are employed in high school.

“Through work experience, students learn employability and leadership skills – skills like interpersonal communication, personal finance, time management, taking direction, receiving critical feedback, and following through on commitments – that support their long-term success in the workforce and in life,” Reykdal said in a release.

To earn a high school diploma in Washington, students must earn 17 credits in core subjects aligning with university admissions requirements, complete a graduation pathway and meet personalized pathway requirements, and earn four credits in elective subjects.

Students could earn credits at a rate of one elective credit for 360 hours worked, or 0.5 elective credits for 180 hours worked. Students will be allowed to earn up to four elective credits through work experience, and no more than two of those credits may be earned in a year.

To earn elective credit for their work hours, students will be required to complete a request form and provide verification of employment to their school. Their school will be responsible for verifying employment, reaching out to employers to monitor student progress and for keeping students’ High School and Beyond Plans updated with their work experience.

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) will initiate rulemaking for this proposal. It aims to have the new program in place by the beginning of the 2023-24 school year.

School districts will be required to report student participation and elective credit attainment via verified paid work experience to OSPI.

Cool, wet spring ends Washington drought

A cool, wet spring has officially ended drought conditions in central and Eastern Washington.

The state Department of Ecology canceled its declaration on July 19, saying water supply conditions exceed expectations and no part of Washington is experiencing drought.

The decision came after the second-wettest May through June since 1895.

Under Washington law, a drought can be declared when the water supply in an area is below 75% of normal. The lowest stream flow forecast in the state is for the Colville River, which was at 86% in July.

“Conditions have improved. All areas of the state, including the five watersheds specified in the drought, have received significantly above-normal precipitation. The outlook is much better than forecast back in May,” said Jeff Marti, drought coordinator for the state agency.

Spring 2022 contrasted sharply with the prior year, when conditions were the second driest on record and an unprecedented heat “dome” smashed temperature records in late June.

‘Murder’ hornets rebranded to sound less lethal

The infamous bee-killing murder hornets that have gained a foothold in northwestern Washington have a new name.

The invasive pest is now the “northern giant hornet,” a term adopted by the Entomological Society of America for the species Vespa mandarinia.

The state Department of Agriculture said it would use the less lethal name on its website and in printed materials.

The northern giant hornet is an invasive species from Asia that has been the target of eradication efforts in Washington state and British Columbia because of its potentially disastrous impact on bees and by extension, agriculture.

Energy Secretary Granholm visits Hanford in August 

U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm visited the Tri-Cities on Aug. 11-12 as part of a three-day trip to Washington that included stops at Sequim and North Bend. 

She was accompanied by U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, and U.S. Reps. Derek Killmer and Kim Schrier, both of Washington.  

The trip was dedicated to “advancing clean energy deployment,” according to a press release issued by the U.S. Department of Energy. 

The visit followed a tour of Oregon and was Granholm’s first visit to Washington.  

She spent Aug. 10 visiting a Pacific Northwest National Laboratory installation at Sequim; Aug. 11 in North Bend and at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory  in Richland; and Aug. 12 touring the Hanford nuclear reservation. 

Granholm was scheduled to visit in February. The trip canceled because of the Russia-Ukraine War.

Nursing home group opposes Medicare ‘parity’ cuts

The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living are protesting a proposed rule that would cut
$330 million in Medicare funding for nursing homes through a 5% cut to payment rates.

The AHCA/NCAL, which represents more than 14,000 nursing homes and assisted living communities, released a statement in support of letters signed by 22 U.S. senators and 18 U.S. representatives urging the Biden administration to reconsider the rule published by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The effort is led by U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, and U.S. Rep. J. Luis Correa, D-California.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has led to an unprecedented workforce shortage and economic crisis within the long-term and post-acute care sector. Sixty percent of nursing homes say their workforce situation has worsened since January, and more than half say they cannot sustain their current operating pace for more than one year,” the association said in its letter of support.

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