Plans approved for hospital expansion

CRESCO - The Regional Health Services of Howard County (RHSHC) Board of Trustees officially approved the proposed plans and specifications, form of contract and estimate of cost for the hospital improvement project.
The board also made a resolution to borrow money in a principal amount not to exceed $9 million.
The bids came in the day of the meeting, Feb. 28. There were two bidders on everything except the mechanical, which had only one bidder.
CEO Robin Schluter said, “If we take all the low bids it is close to $6 million. It still has to be approved by the USDA.”
Schluter added, “This is not set in stone. We can take options one and two and not three and four.”
• Brandon Brevig gave the financial report. It included comparisons of different services over the past 10 years. In nearly every instance, RHSHC has increased its number of patients using its services.
• In 2013, there were an average of 35 adult patient days spent in the hospital, not including OB services. In 2023, that number more than doubled to 90 patient days. Some of that increase is from COVID, but it also includes increasing support services, such as Respiratory Care, cancer treatment and orthopedic care.
• There were only about four births on average per month. Now, it is six, and in the last two months it’s been nine. 
Much of this has to do with the hospital’s nurse midwife, Stephanie Riley, and new doctors Kimberlee Burckart and Kelsey Thomas. Now there are five delivering practitioners.
• Surgical visits, including orthopedics, have went up from 35 per month in 2013 to 69 in 2023.
• Clinic visits numbers have increased as well. In 2013 there were 1,400 per month and now there are 2,200 per month. 
A big part of the increase is in physicians. Ten years ago, RHSHC had three primary care/OB physicians and two nurse practitioners (ARNP). Now there are six primary care physicians and 18-19 full and part-time ARNPs. 
Many things factored into the increase in the number of patients relying on RHSHC for their medical care. 
Take obstetrics for example. RHSHC is almost a stand-alone provider for delivering babies. Neither Chickasaw nor Mitchell counties nor counties in southeast Minnesota have an OB department. 
Several years ago, Schluter listened to her doctors, J. David Maher, Jon Kammerer and Paul Jensen, who all wanted to be involved in obstetrics.  She said, “They wanted to deliver. I have to give them that. So we invested in Stephanie Riley to be a midwife.”
And now Dr. Thomas and Dr. Burckart have been added to the list. This gives all of them a break. If only one or two doctors deliver, they are basically on-call 24-7. Now there are options.
• Pharmaceutical requests have went up dramatically. This happened when Cresco Family Pharmacy purchased Sterling.
“The pharmacy strategy ensures community service and protects our federal 340B income,” Schluter said. “Other facilities are looking at our strategy.”
Dr. Mike LaBelle requested two surgical lights in the Clinic exam room for $11,842, and the OB Department requested a new bilirubin meter, which is for newborns and does not require a heal stick.
Dr. Jensen said COVID cases are trending down. He also complained about a glitch in the computer program when it was updated. Staff worked around it.
With many hospitals losing patients and services, Regional Health is growing and expanding. Howard County is fortunate to have such a variety of great services.

Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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