Electrical and mechanical plans ready for project

This article submitted by Michael Jacobson on 7/5/00.

The Paynesville Area Hospital District Board of Directors covered a light agenda at their regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, June 28.

Board members were informed that the electrical and mechanical plans for the remodeling project involving the hospital and Koronis Manor have been completed.

Hospital system administrator Willie LaCroix told the board that the bidding process could start in July. The board authorized the letting of bids last winter, as soon as the plans were ready.

LaCroix said the bids could be opened in September or October. Most of the construction, however, will not begin until next spring. The plan is to build a new parking lot, perhaps even bid it separately, and install a sprinkling system in the Koronis Manor this fall.

The additions to the facility and the extensive remodeling would not start until next spring.

The remodeling is now projected to cost $4.1 million, plus new equipment, architect's fees, and engineering fees. The system has already paid some of the consulting fees. The initial cost of the project was estimated at $4.9 million.

Trustee conference
Several members of the board attended a trustee conference in Alexandria at the end of June. One item of interest was a survey that indicated a level of distrust that patients had for health care. The feeling of the board members was that distrust was more prevalent in the urban areas. "I think, in our setting, our patients trust us, and they don't just think we're in it for the money," said LaCroix, who also attended the conference.

Another topic was the shortage of health care workers, especially nurses. The scarcity is expected to worsen in the future.

One way to address the shortage would be to have a more aggressive employee loan program. LaCroix said it may become necessary to forgive part of the loans for workers who agree to come back and work at PAHCS.

This would be more like the recruitment tools used for physicians, LaCroix said. Currently, PAHCS does give signing bonuses to doctors and pays part of their student loans.

A shortage will make hiring employees more competitive. "One thing that sticks in my mind is: ÔThey're out there. They might not be working for you, but they're out there,'" said board member Doug Ruhland.

The board also indicated that it would like to consider making more money available to staff through its employee education loan program. That decision could be made when the budget for the next fiscal year is presented in August.

LPN contract
The board learned that the union of Licensed Practical Nurses at the Paynesville Area Health Care System has notified the system that it intends to open their contract for negotiation. a Chamber of Commerce again. The dues for a government unit were $125. Individual memberships cost $25, the amount previously approved by the township board for membership in the Chamber of Commerce.