Hospital plans farm safety presentation

This article submitted by Michael Jacobson on 3/1/00.

The Paynesville Area Hospital District Board of Directors heard from Todd Lemke, a Pharm.D. fellow at Paynesville Area Health Care System, about a farm safety presentation that the health care system will host.

Dr. John Shutske, an agricultural safety specialist at the University of Minnesota, will be speaking on "Guidelines for Prevention of Injury to Farm Children" at the Paynesville Area Center on Tuesday, March 21, from 2 to 3 p.m.

The event is hosted by the Paynesville Rural Health School and PAHCS.

Lemke told the board that the Rural Health School has already heard his presentation and called Shutske a dynamic speaker.

"He's got a lot of guidelines for when a child is ready to do a task," said Dr. Lemke. For instance, a 10-minute attention span is necessary before a child is ready to bottle feed a calf.

Between 100 and 300 children die each year from farm injuries nationwide, Lemke said. The presentation will also be valuable for town kids and other visitors to farms.

"I think a lot of farmers are aware of these issues," said hospital system administrator Willie LaCroix, "but they need to be reminded of it."

Lemke, who is serving a one-year postgraduate fellowship at PAHCS until July, has accepted full-time employment with PAHCS when the fellowship runs out. Lemke has been spending time in the satellite clinics. The hospital system also will start doing its pharmacy in-house.

Other business
•With annual meetings in area townships approaching, the hospital board was informed of this year's schedule to visit the ten governmental entities of the hospital district. Either LaCroix or assistant administrator Bev Mueller will visit a board meeting of each city and township and update them on happenings in the hospital system over the past year.

The schedule for visits is as follows: city of Eden Valley, Wednesday, March 1, 7 p.m.; city of Regal, Monday, March 6, 12:30 p.m.; city of St. Martin, Monday, March 13, 7 p.m.; city of Roscoe, Monday, March 13, 7 p.m.; city of Richmond, Wednesday, March 29, 6:30 p.m.; city of Paynesville, Wednesday, April 12, 6 p.m.

The four townships in the hospital district will have their annual meeting on Tuesday, March 14. Union Grove, Roseville, and Zion all start their meetings at 8:15 p.m., and Paynesville Township starts theirs at 8 p.m.

•The board directed the administration to explore the formation of a Capital Improvement Fund.

Such a charitable fund could be used for capital purchases like ambulances, buildings, and equipment.

Once established, LaCroix said all donations to PAHCS would be placed in this fund. Should enough capital be donated, the system could just use the interest to pay for projects. Larger health care providers frequently have such endowments.

•Karen Bachman, chief financial officer for PAHCS, told the board of new collection procedures designed to help the system collect cash more quickly and efficiently. Ann Friederichs has been hired by the system to handle collections.

New policies include asking for copays up front and to remind patients of overdue balances. "If you have a copay of $15, it doesn't make much sense to pay $6 to bill them," said LaCroix.

Dr. Bob Gardner and Dr. Tim Malling both agreed that outstanding bills and cash needed to be collected, but said more discretion is needed in approaching patients at the front desk. "When you tell them they have a balance due, if everyone else can hear them, they feel about this small," said Dr. Gardner, holding his fingers less than an inch apart. "I don't want to embarrass people, even if they owe us."

•The architect has done some fine tuning of the system's expansion plans. Bids for the $4.9 million project should be opened in July, a month later than planned, and actual construction could start in September.

•The board heard about the "Safe Place for Newborns" program. Under a new state law, hospitals are required to accept and care for newborn babies, up to 72 hours, without asking for the identity of the mother or contacting police. The hospital will care for the child while contacting social services.

The "dumpster" law aims to prevent future tragedies by offering mothers a safe alternative for abandoning their babies. Under the law, hospitals and their employees have immunity from liability in the care of an abandoned baby.

•Board member Rich Philabaum, LaCroix, and John Peyerl of the finance department will be meeting with PAHCS personnel to get the employee's activities club back on track. The hospital system has nearly 300 employees with an $8 million payroll.

•The board appointed Bev Mueller, and board members Diane Rothstein and Vickie Ruegemer to rewrite the system's mission statement.

•The board reappointed Dr. Elizabeth Payne (Ears, Nose and Throat) to the consulting staff.

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