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Paynesville Press - December 26, 2001

PAHCS applies for exception to complete renovation

By Michael Jacobson

Paynesville Area Health Care System has applied for a $3.2 million exception for the second phase of remodeling in the Koronis Manor, the Paynesville Area Hospital District Board of Directors were told at their monthly meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 19.

Without the exception, PAHCS would need to do the remodeling - which consists of converting many patient rooms into private rooms, adding smaller lounges, and providing other amenities - in $1 million stages. Construction in stages would likely be more costly than doing the project all at once.

Originally, the system wanted to do more extensive remodeling at the Manor during the current building project, but the exception prevented it and the work was minimized to the $1 million figure as much as possible. More than $1 million in work is being done but only because some things were mandated (a sprinkling system) and others necessary for future expansion (infrastructure).

PAHCS CEO Willie LaCroix testified before the Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday, Dec. 13, patient care administrator Bev Mueller told the hospital board. Currently, PAHCS's application is rated in the top ten, the administration has been told by their consultants. Up to 31 exceptions were budgeted, but the state deficit might cause that number to be reduced.

"Willie really gave a great presentation," said Don Anderson, one of three hospital board members who accompanied LaCroix to the hearing. "He really had the attention of the 20 members of the board."

Part of PAHCS's plan is to reduce its number of nursing home beds. The Manor currently is licensed for 64 beds. PAHCS is currently negotiating to acquire the Good Samaritan Care Center in Paynesville (46 beds) and Hilltop Good Samaritan Center in Watkins from the Good Samaritan Society (65 beds), which would give PAHCS a total of 175 beds. PAHCS could decertify up to a quarter of its nursing home beds.

Following the merger, PAHCS will be doing a study on the long-term care needs in the area, and the assumption is that some other types of care - assisted living, for instance - will be identified as a need. These, then, would no longer need to be certified as nursing home beds.

For the past month, the Koronis Manor has averaged 15 empty beds. At $100 per day, each bed is worth $3,000 per month. Having 15 empty is a $45,000 revenue loss per month. Hilltop currently has 10 empty beds as well, Mueller told the hospital board. Between them, Hilltop and the Good Samaritan have 10 beds on layaway.

This adds up to more than 30 empty beds in the three facilities.

The Koronis Manor may also look at laying away some beds, said Mueller. The current construction project will put six beds out of commission until at least the end of October, Mueller said. This may make putting the beds on layaway - which must be done for a year - a viable alternative, she said.

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