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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Apr 19, 2018

HCHC hiring new OB-GYN to start in June

The hospital has been searching for a replacement for 13 months
Mar 22, 2018

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News

 

Henry County Health Center is in the process of hiring a new OB-GYN.

The hospital has been searching for 13 months for someone to take over the services of former OB-GYN Dr. Robert Smith with his retirement in October 2017. When CEO Robb Gardner announced to the Henry County Health Center (HCHC) Board of Trustees in February that the last candidate they were trying to recruit had officially turned down the position because of family reasons, the board was going to begin considering other options for their OB Department.

In a reversal from where HCHC was a month ago, however, hospital administration has been in “very good conversations” with Dr. Michael Risken, a physician they have been working with on a temporary basis for the past few months, Gardner said during the board of trustees meeting on Tuesday, March 20.

“We do have a signed letter of intent for (him) to be the new OB-GYN at the health center,” Gardner said.

Risken will work alongside nurse-midwives Kari Payne and Kendra Bonnesen starting full time in June. Gardner said he has been well-received by the medical staff and has gotten good feedback from the nursing community.

As the OB Department has dealt with the hole in their services over the last few months, Gardner wanted to thank Payne and Bonnesen for the work they’ve done and in helping the transition be as smooth as possible while the hospital was searching for a new doctor.

In taking the job, Risken said there’s something special about HCHC. Gardner said Risken has been impressed with the medical staff and how collaboratively they work together.

“We’re excited to offer more available spots for women who need gynecological procedures, and we’ll be able to do those right here,” Gardner said. “ (Risken) is a very, very skilled surgeon.”

During their board meeting, members also discussed the upcoming Orthopedic and General Surgery Clinic renovations. Orthopedic and general surgery services will be moved to the second floor of HCHC. Gardner isn’t concerned that this move will disrupt the flow of traffic, saying it is the same number of steps through the front doors and up the stairs as it is to their current clinic. There is also an easily-accessible elevator for wheelchairs.

The move will give the clinic the same number of exam rooms as they have currently. The project will cost an estimated $476,800, which is a cost of $160 per square foot.

The project will be publicly-bid. The public hearing for the clinic project will take place April 17, at noon. A pre-bid meeting with interested contractors will be held April 4, at 11 a.m. in the Health Education Center. Bids for the project will be received April 17, at 10 a.m. in the Health Education Center and will be opened at that time.

The hospital is also gearing up to repair parking lots. Gardner said they are working with engineers to come up with a three-year plan. This will spread the cost of the project over three years and phase it in financially, have less of an impact on parking and work better for the hospital operationally, Gardner said.

The “lay of the land” will be the same but with a new surface. They are potentially doing two sections of the associate parking lot and three sections of the south parking lot later this year.

CFO David Muhs added that doing the parking lot in sections also will help during the winter because salt and other de-icing products cannot be used on new asphalt for a year. “We have a good plan in place,” he said.

In other news, the board honored Dr. James Widmer and Dr. Linwood Miller with the Hobbie Award. The Hobbie Award is an award created in honor of Wanita Hobbie for 38 years of service and is given to individuals associated with HCHC who display the same commitment, who always go above and beyond and give their life and commitment to HCHC and caring for their patients.

Widmer and Miller, who are retiring this year, will get their names on a plaque to be displayed in the hospital and will be recognized for their service at the medical staff meeting on May 8.

The next HCHC board of trustees meeting is Tuesday, April 17, at noon.

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