HCHC to borrow $855,000 for new medical equipment
By STEPH TAHTINEN
Mt. Pleasant News
Henry County Health Center is applying to borrow $855,000 to purchase new medical equipment for the health center.
The idea was first brought to the HCHC board of trustees last month and after a public hearing during the board’s regular meeting on Tuesday, the board voted to proceed with the loan. The money will be put towards new equipment such as surgery equipment and equipment for the outpatient areas of the hospital, such as furniture for the waiting room.
The loan is part of the USDA Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program. Under this program, the USDA provides a zero-percent interest loan to local utilities, in this case Access Energy. Access Energy is then able to pass the money on to local businesses.
HCHC CFO Dave Muhs told the trustees that HCHC was found to be eligible for $855,000. Of that amount, $360,000 of the payback will go to local businesses that apply for loans through the Access Energy revolving loan fund. The remaining $495,000 would go back to the USDA.
This loan will not have an impact on the money that HCHC has already borrowed for the project. HCHC has already borrowed $12 million for the facility renovation project and is using $3 million of its own money for the renovation. This USDA loan will allow HCHC to use less of its own money at this time and spread out the payments over time.
The board also heard an update on the facility renovation project from Project Manager Cragon Caboth.
Work on Issuance two — installing the equipment in the new energy center — is almost complete.
“All of the equipment is in place. We’re doing final adjustments, cleaning up small items that are under way,” said Caboth.“It is moving along. We’ve been very cognizant of making sure what’s done is being done properly.”
The final punch list is scheduled for Jan. 29, and all items should be done within a week of that date, noted Caboth.
Meanwhile, work on Issuance three — the new surgery addition — has been progressing.
“We are in the process right now of finalizing the foundation. The basement is in place. We do not have a cap on top of it, but we do have a deck in place,” said Caboth.
Additional structural steel will be done this week.
Caboth expects the new addition to be enclosed by Feb. 22.
“That is realistic based on where we’re at now, unless Mother Nature does something really strange,” said Caboth. “But we have some contingency time built in.”
“Issuance three has been progressing very well. Very, very well. That’s the great thing,” commented CEO Robb Gardner. “The fortunate thing is that the Issuance two delays have not impacted Issuance three at all.”
Gardner noted that until now the construction has had little impact on the running of the health center. He mentioned there had been about four issues with parking that have arisen due to areas of the parking lot being shut off due to construction.
However, once the new surgery addition is enclosed and work moves inside the health center, the construction will become more apparent.
“We’ll be coming inside and everybody will know we’re here,” said Caboth.
One area that will soon be impacted is the Health Education Center and the Diabetes Education Center. The former courtyard entrance near these rooms has already been closed off for a few months, and the rooms themselves will soon be in the construction zone.
Chief Nursing Officer Jodi Geerts informed the trustees that plans are underway to move the Diabetes Education Center to the second floor where the Great River Hospice room used to be located.
Construction is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2014.
In other business the board:
• Swore in the newly-elected board members, including Board Chair Bob Meyer, Megan Wenstrand and Ron Clouse.
• Set a public hearing for Feb. 19 on the county tax budget. Muhs said that although the levy rate will remain the same, HCHC will be receiving $23,000 more this year due to the county’s valuations increasing.
• Reviewed HCHC’s investment report from US Bank.
• Reviewed the conflict of interest/code of conduct for board members.