Gas Field Workers Cited in Pa. Hospital’s Losses
Washington PA Observer Reporter
24 December 2012
JERSEY SHORE (AP) — The first operating loss in about five years
at a north-central Pennsylvania hospital is a sign of the influx
of natural gas field workers without health insurance, the
facility’s CEO said.
Jersey Shore Hospital president and CEO Carey Plummer told the
Sun-Gazette of Williamsport (http://bit.ly/12KG3O3) that many
subcontractors attracted to the area’s Marcellus Shale drilling
boom do not cover employees.
That has brought a growing number of uninsured people to the
community-owned, nonprofit hospital, Plummer said.
“We had a loss,” Plummer said. “I don’t think it’s a sign of the
economy. I think it’s the influx of the gas, industry and those
who lack insurance.”
The hospital reported an operating loss of $770,000 while
providing more than $3 million in care to people unable to pay in
its most recent fiscal year. The uncompensated care figure is the
highest it has ever seen.
Other significant factors contributing to the hospital’s losses
include cuts in Medicaid reimbursements, employee salary increases
and higher pension costs, Plummer said.
Jersey Shore is about 65 miles north of Pennsylvania’s capital of
Harrisburg. The hospital says its service area covers about 45,000
people in Clinton and Lycoming counties. It reported 3,260 acute
care days, 67,691 outpatient visits and 14, 835 emergency room
visits in the most recent fiscal year.
With about 660 wells, Lycoming County is the fourth most heavily
drilled county in the Marcellus Shale rush that began in earnest
in 2008, according to state records. The footprint in Clinton
County is smaller, with just under 100 since then. The state’s two
most heavily drilled counties, Tioga and Bradford, are neighbors
of Lycoming County.