Hospital board votes to sell clinic building

This article submitted by Michael Jacobson on 11/24/99.

The Paynesville Area Health Care System will have to wait a little longer than expected to move into their new clinic building in Richmond.

At their monthly meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 17, the Paynesville Area Hospital District Board of Directors were informed, by hospital system administrator Willie LaCroix, that the completion of the clinic was now a month behind schedule, mainly due to delays with cabinetry and other mill work.

Previously, PAHCS had expected to move into the new clinic this weekend, and at their October meeting had scheduled an open house for early December. Now the plan is to move between Christmas and New Year's.

Patient care administrator Bev Mueller said that the x-ray equipment won't arrive until early January anyway.

The open house, planned for early December, will be rescheduled until later this winter. "We really wanted to do it at Christmas," said LaCroix.

Dr. Randy Zimmerman, chief of the medical staff at PAHCS, told the board that the clinic is ready to move. They've already started packing and throwing away outdated records and equipment. "We're living out of boxes now," said Zimmerman, who practices in Richmond two days each week.

It turns out that preparation will come in handy. Later in the meeting, the board voted unanimously to sell the existing clinic building for $65,000 in cash to Glen Heitzman of Cold Spring. PAHCS administrators have maintained contacts in an effort to sell the building. A realtor was not used in the sale.

Pending an inspection for structural damage, the sale could be closed by the first week of January. "It makes sense to go forward," said board member Doug Ruhland. The motion to sell included an "as is" stipulation.

Clinic updates
Rosemary Devlin, clinic manager for PAHCS, gave the board updates on the Integrated Health Center (IHC) as well as the other clinics in the system. Dr. Tom Sult continues to be overwhelmed during his office hours at the IHC, Devlin told the board. Dr. Jason Peterson, chiropractor, continues to build his practice. Right now, he's at almost 50 percent capacity.

Devlin also informed the board that the IHC has started offering herbs and other nonprescription medical items for sale on a cash basis.

The hours of the center need to be readdressed, Devlin said. She would like to have the clinic open on a daily basis after the first of the year. "I think we need to be open," she said. "I think we need to have cars in the parking lot."

The number of patients has increased at the system's new clinic in Watkins as well, Devlin told the board. Including in that growth is an increased number of patients from Kimball.

The problem with all that growth at the satellite clinics is a lack of staffing at the main clinic in Paynesville. The physicians' schedules are very tight as a result. "The only thing that will help us out is having--hopefully three--new physicians next summer," said LaCroix.

PAHCS has already received commitments from Dr. Heidi Malling and Dr. Larry Strate. Both should begin practicing for PAHCS next summer. The system is still recruiting another resident.

New CT scanner
The board discussed the new high speed CT Scanner that PAHCS has ordered. The board was told that a similar scanner in Virginia led to a tripling in scans.

"It's going to be patient driven," said LaCroix. He also informed the board that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved cardiac scoring, where the calcium in the heart arteries is examined to determine the extent of coronary heart disease. FDA approval is needed before Medicare will reimburse for a procedure, he said.

The board also discussed the effect of a similar high speed CT scanner in St. Cloud. Dr. Zimmerman said that the St. Cloud market is big enough to support two of these state-of-the-art scanners. He said that PAHCS shouldn't worry about competition, as it would increase understanding. "It can only help," he said. "It's wrong to think it's good to be the only one out there."

"I would agree," said board chairman Don Thomes. "The more education people have about it, the more they'll use it."

Other business
•A $750 donation was received from Dennis Nistler, in memory of his father Erwin Nistler. The donation was given to outreach, home health, and hospice.

•The board approved the appointments to the consulting staff at the hospital: Dr. Steven Bollinger (GI and internal medicine); Dr. Joe Heiu V. Nguyen (cardiology); and Dr. Hans Serleth (general surgery).

•The board members saw the new ambulance at the start of their meeting. Steve Stang, coordinator of the Paynesville Area Ambulance Corps, brought the new ambulance to the hospital and answered questions about it.

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