Mt Pleasant News

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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 22, 2018

HCHC struggling to trim budget, looking to fill staff positions

Sep 22, 2017

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


Henry County Health Center is off to a rough start this fiscal year, Chief Executive Officer Robb Gardner said during the board of trustees meeting on Thursday, Sept. 21.

The board is looking closely at cost-efficiencies as Henry County Health Center (HCHC) enters the fourth month of the fiscal year, which started July 1. At the beginning of the fiscal year, each HCHC department was asked to cut 10 percent of their budget.

“We need to talk some strategic things going forward here because we are going to have to work differently in the next few years,” Gardner said. “That’s even why the American Hospital Association changed their tag line to ‘Redefining the H,’” which looks to partner hospitals with community stakeholders and ensuring the hospital’s board fosters productive leadership for the future.

HCHC is currently in the middle of a clinic remodel. Total construction is estimated at $85,000, with almost half of that money spent on mechanics and infrastructure. The board is looking at ways to cut costs, but for now, plans moving forward remain the same. It will be brought back for board review within the next couple of months.

Gardner said the mechanics and infrastructure expenses are necessary and the hospital needs to take advantage of upgrading opportunity while the clinic is being remodeled.

While the hospital is trying to cut expenses, they are also in need of more doctors. Dr. Robert Smith, OB-GYN, is retiring this month. The hospital has been looking for a replacement OB-GYN for seven months without any success, Gardner said.

“It’s challenging to get (health care) providers to rural communities,” Gardner said. “It’s daunting. Out of that seven months, we’ve only had two physicians interested, and that was not going to be a good fit for our community.”

On top of being short an OB-GYN, General Surgeon Dr. Michelle Tansey will be going on maternity leave for three months beginning in October. While there will be no 24/7 on-call surgeon while she’s on maternity leave, HCHC is working with partners at Great River Health Systems in West Burlington to have two surgeons take over her service while she is out of the office and do local follow-up care.

Tansey will return in January and serve as chief of staff, Gardner said.

“I imagine she’ll be here after her baby’s born, really excited and ready to go,” Gardner said. “She’s very engaged. We look forward to having her here with that.”

HCHC also has their sights on adding two residents to their emergency room staff in July.

The next board of trustees meeting will be Tuesday, Oct. 16.

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