Tax asking to remain the same for VDMC

Board of trustees votes to move to public bidding on remodeling of emergency registration area, expansion of infusion therapy center

The tax asking for Van Diest Medical Center will remain the same for the seventh consecutive year, following action taken by the board of trustees Tuesday night.

Alice Heinrichs, Chief Financial Officer for VDMC, explained to the board that as a county-owned hospital, VDMC is supported by a tax levy based upon property tax from Hamilton County. That levy is currently at $2.10 per $1,000 of valuation.

“This has not increased for six years,” Heinrichs said. adding that the valuations in the county increased for 2020-2021 by 4.9 percent.

“That has caused the estimated amount to be raised by taxation and utility excise taxes combined, to be at $2.1 million for the hospital. This tax revenue equates to be approximately 5.9 percent of our hospital’s total revenues,” she said.

Heinrichs offered some examples of other area hospitals for comparison. Boone County Hospital collects $2.7 million and Story County Hospital in Nevada collects $4.6 million. Van Diest Medical Center ranks 19th out of 42 hospitals across the state in valuations per $1,000.

“County hospitals don’t get tax revenues based on the services they provide,” Heinrichs said. “Their mix of services vary as each county or critical access hospital across the state is very unique.”

She added that within Hamilton County, the taxes are divided among the school system, county, city, community college and local townships and districts. The hospital receives 6 percent of the approximate $33 million in county tax dollars collected.

Board Chairman Roberta Knutson said the board’s finance committee had unanimously approved keeping the tax asking the same as the previous year.

The board unanimously approved the tax asking.

In other business, the board voted to move ahead to the public bidding process for a remodeling project for the Emergency Department registration area and the infusion center expansion. Chief Executive Officer Lisa Ridge, Facilities Director Brian Miller and Leigh Miller, clinic director and performance excellence director, discussed the reasons for the remodeling project.

Ridge said that the ED receives about 500 customers per month. The Emergency Department entrance is also the entrance for the lab, radiology, the medical-surgical unit, operating room and specialty clinics.

Ridge said there were four concerns with the existing ED Registration area — safety, visibility, privacy and workflow. The area offers little protection for workers and privacy for patients registering at the desk is non-existent. The staff working at the desk have poor sight lines when it comes to viewing the waiting room and the driveway just outside the entrance.

Leigh Miller said she had led a 3-P project, which stands for Production, Preparation and Process. Working with staff, 3-D representation was constructed out of cardboard to determine how the area could best alleviate the four concerns about the area.

Brian Miller explained the phases of the construction which involved creating temporary registration area while remodeling was under way. The construction was anticipated to take six weeks with an estimated cost of $104,375.

Ridge said the infusion center was in need of expansion. The center is open five days a week and has five patient stations currently. The center serves about 120 patients per month. Ridge said the upward trend shows continued growth for the service.

The proposal would add an additional three infusion stations, one of which would feature a bed rathe than a recliner. The project would also reposition the nurses station and add a nutrition station and a bathroom.

The total cost for the project was estimated to be $285.000 and would likely take six to eight weeks.

Ridge recommended bidding both the remodeling and expansion as one project to get a better price. The hospital would further save on the project by not bidding out for a separate construction manager. Ridge said funding for the project would come from the hospital’s current operational funds.

The board approved moving to the public bidding process.

Mental Health update

Hamilton County Supervisor Doug Bailey gave an update on the progress at the Shashi Station, the former Webster City Medical Clinic.

Bailey said that the mental health drop in center and Central Iowa Recovery offices will be completed about May 10.

“We are looking CIR, the provider who will operate the drop in center, are looking at moving in the first week in May,” Bailey said. “It’s been a longtime coming.”

He added that the facility hopes to coordinate with a county-wide Mental Health Conference in May to possibly provide tours of the building.

CEO comments

At the start of the meeting, Ridge and Carroll Ose, a long-tenured member of the board of trustees, offered a 2020 update to the board and the audience present.

“We have a 100-year history of adapting to meet the every-changing health care environment and the needs of residents in Hamilton County and beyond,” Ridge said. “As a county-owned, critical access hospital, our top priority is making decisions that provide the highest level of care while at the same time, best utilizing our resources to meet the needs of our community. We systematically evaluate the health care needs of the community to improve the overall health of the population.”

Ridge went on to point out some of the efforts to expand some of the specialized services to accommodate growing needs of the population.

“This includes the development of the mental health services campus, the expansion of podiatry services, infusion therapy, skilled care services and the expansion of pain management services to include the addition of a ketamine clinic,” she said. “At the same time we’ve welcomed new caregivers, providers, staff and volunteers, in addition to the successful physician recruitment of Dr. Caleb Glawe, a board-certified family medicine physician who joins us next week.”

Ridge said she was proud of the service VDMC provides, the growth the organization has seen and the team of physicians, nurses, staff and volunteers.

“I can assure you that we are committed to making decisions to ensure the viability of our hospital so we remain financially sustainable to continue to provide high quality care to our patients, families and the community for the next 100 years,” she said.


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