Just a few years ago, Lewis County General Hospital was operating in the red. Now, the hospital is back to making money, but as a county hospital it shares a fund balance with Lewis County.

"Fund balance is there for unanticipated expenses," hospital board of managers president Michael Young said, "and to help smooth out the ups and downs of cash."

The county took on the hospital's bill. Both sides met Wednesday to hash out a plan for the hospital to repay an anticipated $4.8 million back to the county.

After months of negotiating, they struck a deal. Young says he's relieved.

"Both boards want to do what's best for the hospital and I think that came across clearly today." he said.

Legislative Chairman Michael Tabolt says the repayment plan is a step in the right direction.

"We'd like to see the hospital flourish and be a benefit to our whole community," he said, "so we're all going to work together and try to make it the best we can."

Now that the hospital and county have come to a verbal agreement that the hospital will use a repayment plan, both sides will have to sit down and decide how long that repayment plan will be.

"Literally sit down and spell out what the terms are going to be and just be very clear," county administrator Elizabeth Swearingin said.

The hospital continues to look for new ways to keep hard financial times a thing of the past.