PAHCS may prioritize proposed project

This article submitted by Michael Jacobson on 10/04/00.

The latest cost estimates for the proposed expansion and renovation at the Paynesville Area Health Care System (PAHCS) are higher than projected, the hospital board learned at its regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 27.

Assistant administrator Bev Mueller told the board that, as a result of the new estimates, the administration, doctors, and construction consultants would be prioritizing the facets of the project.

Those parts deemed a lesser priority could be listed as an option in the bidding. That way, the board would have some discretion about what to do and how much to spend if the actual bids come in at the higher prices.

The project would include several small additions and extensive remodeling. In the hospital, the changes would double the outreach clinic area as well as provide more space for radiology, surgery, and deliveries.

A new emergency entrance would be built on the west side of the hospital and the nurse's station would be moved.

In the Koronis Manor, the project would add a dining room and another tub room. The nurse's station would be updated, and a sprinkling system will be installed.

The project will be paid through the system's profits. While the hospital district does have the power to levy taxes, it has never done so.

The biggest increase in the latest estimates, according to Mueller, was in the mechanical work, which turned out to be more intensive than thought in the original price projections.

The mechanical and electrical plans were the last ones to be completed. Both are complex because the construction and renovation will need to be done in stages without stopping work in each department.

Mueller told the board that the mechanical work is now estimated at 30 percent of the total project. The estimate for electrical work is within two percent of the previous estimate.

The current estimates do include a five percent contingency, but Mueller suggested that might not be enough. One potential problem is asbestos. The hospital system already removed asbestos from insulation in the tunnels below the floor, but part of the proposed project would include installing a sprinkler system in the ceiling of the Koronis Manor.

Since the Manor was built in the 1960s, Mueller suspects more asbestos might be insulating pipes in its ceiling. Asbestos needs to be abated by professionals, and their work must also be monitored.

Mueller also reviewed the expected construction schedule for the board. The system hopes to let the bids in December or January, and then have construction start next spring in either March or April. The entire project should take 18 months to complete, Mueller said.

The board has already granted the administration authority to let the bids for the project. The board still will need to accept the bids before the project can start.

Other business
•The board approved a new contract with the Licensed Practical Nurses. The new contract, which had already been approved by the LPN's union, includes a $2 per hour increase across the board in the first year, and a three percent increase in the second year.

Mueller said the increase would make PAHCS's wages more competitive with other institutions in the area. Since LPNs are in demand, this should help the system retain employees.

•Mueller updated the board about the bike rodeo on Saturday, Sept. 23, that was sponsored by PAHCS.

The first-time event had 85 participants. Mueller said the bike rodeo, along with the car safety seat program, help to foster a positive image for PAHCS.

One emphasis at the bike rodeo was helmets. Ambulance corps members fitted helmets properly for maximum safety. They sold 90 helmets, or more helmets than registered participants. Mueller said several parents - after hearing the importance of helmets and of setting a good example for their kids - went back and bought a new helmet for themselves, too.

Another bike rodeo is planned for next spring. Mueller said they hope to hold at least one a year in Paynesville. They also might try to have a rodeo at a different satellite clinic each year.

Board member Rich Philabaum suggested that future rodeos could also feature roller blade and scooter safety.

•PAHCS has started a new billing system for outpatient services through the hospital. Medicare wants the system to bill by the procedure and not include line item expenses any more. The hospital's auditors, on the other hand, want detailed expenditures for accounting purposes.

Mueller explained that they are trying to develop one way to satisfy both of these needs.

One noticeable change is that billing now will include a professional code for services and a supply code. These will not necessarily be the same.

•Unless a petition is gathered in the city of Lake Henry to call for a referendum about joining the hospital district, the entrance of the city of Lake Henry should be on next month's agenda, Mueller told the board.

•The board approved ancillary medical privileges to Dan Lillquist, physician assistant, and to J. D. Anderson, Pharm.D.

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