Mt Pleasant News
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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Jun 24, 2018

Future of HCHC’s OB Department uncertain after unfruitful 13-month search for new OB-GYN

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News | Feb 22, 2018

The final candidate Henry County Health Center was trying to recruit as the hospital’s new OB-GYN turned down the offer Monday, leaving uncertainty about the department’s future.

Hospital administration has been searching for a new OB-GYN for 13 months now, with the former OB-GYN, Dr. Robert Smith, having retired in October 2017.

During the Henry County Health Center (HCHC) Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 20, CEO Robb Gardner said that over the next month, administration will continue to assess the services offered and will come to the board in March to discuss where the program is headed.

Gardner assured that the OB-GYN candidate turned down the position because of family matters, adding that the resident from Rochester, New York, was impressed with HCHC and the Mt. Pleasant community.

“He loved the culture, the medical community, and he thought he could be successful here,” Gardner said. “We were his top practice opportunity, but for his family and his wife, he is going to not take the position.”

Gardner said that although it was a tough conversation, he can’t fault the candidate, who personally called him to turn down the offer and explain his circumstances rather than going through the recruitment agency.

“He personally called me and that speaks of his values,” Gardner said.

Gardner spoke with the OB nurses on Monday after receiving the news and planned on speaking with other hospital staff on Wednesday.

In other news, Gardner looked ahead to remodeling of the clinic. HCHC expects to open a rural health clinic in July or August this year. Gardner said there is a space where it would fit perfectly, but it involves moving General Surgery and Orthopedic Surgery services to a different area of the hospital.

The remodel will cost $350,000, much of which is infrastructure. Gardner said the high-level cost is to update the heating and cooling and other mechanics of the space that haven’t been updated since the 1990s.

“This would last for another 20 years,” Gardner said. “That’s indicative for the rest of our aging plan.”

HCHC CFO Dave Muhs presented a financial statement for the month of January, saying that it was a busier month and “everything happened the right way.”

Muhs said the hospital received an extra $100,000 from Medicare for electronic health record reconciliation from 2012 to 2013 that was not expected. They are expecting $40,000 from Medicaid “at some point,” Muhs said. HCHC also received a Public Health grant income last month that was not budgeted for.

Gardner received feedback from the Board of Trustee’s self-assessment they took last month. This is the fifth year in a row the board has taken the assessment, which helps administration take a closer look at the hospital’s strengths and weaknesses.

Gardner said that of the 61 questions on the survey, only 13 scored lower than previous years. Gardner said that as a board, they will look at those questions to see what strategies they can implement to improve them for next year.

Gardner also said that 53 of the questions, HCHC scored higher than their peer group, which is critical access and rural hospitals in Iowa.

“It’s a testament to the board’s certification and their engagement in health care,” Gardner said, thanking the board of trustees for their dedication to the hospital’s success.

During a hospital inspection he conducted this month, board member Ron Clouse said that the main entryway of the hospital is put together again, with the heavy equipment moved out after touch ups were made. Clouse said the entryway has been repainted and the lights are brighter because they were replaced with LED light bulbs.

He voiced some concern over spots of flooring in the entryway that still need to be replaced, asking how flooring can be replaced when people need to walk across it every day.

Gardner laughed and said, “Hopefully they’ll do it quickly.”

Clouse also briefly addressed Muhs when discussing his inspection, saying that he noticed the registration tables have been busy, and people were waiting their turn at the benches that line the hallway.

“That may help you out, Dave.” Clouse said. “Keep them coming.”

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