Construction could start in August at PAHCS

This article submitted by Michael Jacobson on 3/29/00.

Bids for the proposed $4.9 million expansion and remodeling project at the Paynesville Area Health Care System won't be opened until the end of July.

At their monthly meeting on Wednesday, March 22, the Paynesville Area Hospital District Board of Directors was informed that the final design for the project would not be completed until the middle of April and construction documents would not be ready for bidding until June.

"We continue to tweak things," said Willie LaCroix, hospital system administrator. "That's part of the delay."

For instance, after a recent tour of surgery suites in St. Cloud, the architect is redesigning the new surgery suites for Paynesville to increase the amount of storage space. The goal is to have the suites as comparable as possible to make visiting surgeons just as comfortable here as they would be elsewhere.

If bids are opened in July, construction could begin in August. Additions, including a new emergency entrance, would be done first, with remodeling taking up to two years to complete.

The project would add a second operating room, double the size of the outreach clinic, and revamp the nurses station in the hospital. It would add exam rooms to the clinic, and it would repair the roof, provide more dining space, and add another tub room in the Koronis Manor.

Mission statement
The board approved a new mission statement, pending grammatical changes by the administration. Two mission statements were presented: one written by a three-person committee appointed by the board and the other submitted by board chairman Don Thomes.

The board opted for Thomes' statement on account of its brevity. "My objective was to keep it short and make it easy to remember," said Thomes.

The mission statement is, "PAHCS's mission is to provide quality health care in a community-based, quality-con-scious, caring environment."

"The mission statement is really the organization's pledge to the employees and patients about what you're all about and how you expect to do it," said LaCroix.

Chiropractic services end
The board was informed that chiropractic services have ceased at the system's Integrated Health Center after a six-month performance review of Dr. Jason Peterson. Economic considerations prompted the move, according to LaCroix.

After the review, the physicians of the Paynesville Medical Group recom-mended the termination of chiropractic services. The joint management com-mittee, composed of three doctors and three board members, voted unanimously to end chiropractic care at this time.

Dr. Bob Gardner, who as chief of staff serves on both the joint management committee and on the hospital board, said growing economic returns are expected in any new venture, but chiropractic care at the IHC seemed to have peaked a couple months ago. "When you see that in a new business, it's very worrisome," he said.

LaCroix, who conducted an exit interview with Dr. Peterson, said Peterson was disappointed that things didn't work out but still had his practice in Willmar. Clinic manager Rosemary Devlin said that Peterson was provided with a list of his patients and contact numbers for credentials.

Profits up, cash short
The system recorded a profit of $45,000 in February, a result that John Peyerl of the business office attributed to cost management. "Expenses are the big difference this month," he said. "Otherwise we'd probably be in the red."

The hospital system, which has $317,000 in profits in the current fiscal year, which started on Oct. 1, still is short on cash and has established a spending freeze to cut down on expenses. All purchases must be approved by either LaCroix, Mueller, or Karen Bachman, chief financial officer.

Even with the profit, the hospital system cashed a $75,000 certificate of deposit to use as cash. "We really need to get our cash back up," Bachman told the board.

Days-cash-on-hand, a measure of cash flow, dwindled to 3.13 in February. The system had cash on hand for 21.17 days in October 1999. Board member Doug Ruhland half jokingly asked if the system would need to start measuring cash on hand in hours rather than days.

The administration said capital improvements over the past few months have required unusual amounts of cash. Before the new year, the system made purchases to insure against Y2K. The system also finished outfitting the new clinic in Richmond, conducted a feasibility study for the remodeling project, handled the annual payments that come due in January and February, and recruited three new physicians to come to PAHCS.

One bright sign is the hospital system made its final bond payment for the 1983 hospital remodeling project. The final payment was for $225,000. Despite the cash woes, the administration plans to continue setting aside $23,000 a month for the upcoming remodeling project, even though bond payments for the $4.9 million project are a couple years away.

The board also was told that patient volume was up in March, an indicator of a profitable month.

Other business
•LaCroix thanked both Sen. Michelle Fischbach (R-Paynesville) and Rep. Doug Stang (R-Cold Spring) for supporting a revision of the hospital district legislation that would make it easier for established districts, like PAHCS, to expand.

The bill has passed the House and the Senate and has been forwarded to the governor's desk. Stang said he didn't expect any problems in getting the bill signed into law by the governor.

•The board will hold a joint conference committee meeting on Tuesday, April 11, at 6:45 a.m. with the doctors of the physician's group in the Blakely Room at the hospital.

•LaCroix told the board that he is still researching the formation of a capital improvement fund. Such a fund, once established, could be used to fund capital improvements. Donations to the system would likely be placed in the fund.

Such a fund will not be in place in time to fund the proposed $4.9 million remodeling project.

•The board appointed Dr. Edward Green, an allergist, to the consulting staff. It approved requests for additional privileges for Dr. Robert Glesne and Dr. Patrick Oakes.

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