St. John's Health

St. John’s Health wants to spend $100 million on affordable housing.

That eye-popping number came in a comment from Trustee Scott Gibson during the hospital board’s monthly meeting July 15. Though the hospital’s hopes for future affordable housing aren’t yet crystalized, they are certainly ambitious.

Affordable housing is on the minds of pretty much every business owner in Teton County, but St. John’s is one of the few organizations with the clout to dream that big. Trustees say they want to create the systems to keep employees in the area before it begins to drag down the patient experience.

“The primary mission we have is our quality of care. That’s No. 1,” Gibson said at the meeting.

Committing to such a large sum was a “vote of confidence” in employees, he said, but he wanted them to understand that it would require fiscal success to make happen.

“If we’re going to take care of you and we’re going to try to spend $100 million or more on affordable housing, we’re going to have to pay a lot of attention to improving our sustainability,” he said.

Gibson’s comments were a small part of the hospital board’s discussion about its budget for the next fiscal year. Spending large sums on affordable housing, however, isn’t included in this year’s budget.

This year’s budget, both in typical hospital expenses and capital construction, looks similar to previous years, without a substantial increase for housing. St. John’s anticipates overall revenue of $173.2 million, with expenses expected to be $164.3 million.

That means the hospital will see around $8.85 million before interest, taxes and amortization, which will be around $11 million. After all that, St. John’s would be $2.1 million in the hole, but as a public hospital it does collect a mill levy that offsets some costs of unpaid health care it provides to uninsured people.

“I don’t want the community to think we are losing money,” Trustee Joe Albright said during the July meeting.

With $4.9 million coming from tax revenue and another $4.9 million coming from St. John’s Health Foundation contributions, the hospital plans to see a gain of $7.8 million in fiscal year 2022. Those last two sources of revenue, taxes and philanthropy, are factored in each year, so hospital representatives say that in its totality the budget is solid.

“Overall the numbers are positive,” Chief Financial Officer John Kren said.

Included in the budget is a smaller price increase than in previous years. St. John’s has a master list of prices for its services, and costs on the list will bump up 3%, lower than the 8% bump seen each of the past two years. Those prices may not entirely reflect what an individual patient might pay because insurance companies may have their own agreements with the hospital.

Because of a new law that went into effect Jan. 1, hospitals are now required to publish lists of prices so that patients can compare prices. For Jackson patients, that may be less helpful to stimulate competition, since the closest other hospitals are a couple of hours away, but the lists are live on the St. John’s website.

To find the lists, which are in Excel spreadsheets, go to StJohns.Health. Under the “Patients and Visitors” menu, click on “Billing Information,” then click on “Pricing and Rates.” Links to costs for procedures, pharmacy services and average inpatient stays are at the bottom of that page.

Contact Tom Hallberg at 732-7079 or thallberg@jhnewsandguide.com.

Tom Hallberg covers a little bit of everything, from skiing to long-form feature stories. A Teton Valley, Idaho, transplant by way of Portland and Bend, Oregon, he spends his time outside work writing fiction, splitboarding and climbing.

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