The Texas County Memorial Hospital board of trustees was presented with a preliminary time line for its expansion project at a monthly meeting last week.
Earlier in the month, about one week after the September board of trustees meeting, TCMH received word from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that an $18 million loan application was approved making way for a 58,000 square foot hospital expansion and related remodeling and renovation at the hospital.
TCMH officials had been working with the USDA to obtain funding for their expansion project since early 2009 after financing through the traditional bond market became unattainable as interest rates rose in late 2008.
“Everyone did a tremendous amount of work to help make this happen,” said Wes Murray, chief executive officer at TCMH.
Murray expressed gratitude to TCMH staff members that worked on the project as well as to state and local USDA staff members.
“On behalf of the TCMH medical staff, I thank the board for its 100 percent support regarding this expansion,” Murray said.
Murray explained that after meeting with USDA officials and HMN Architects Inc. of Springfield — the firm that designed the TCMH expansion — all of the required documents for the project will not be in place by the end of 2010 to ensure that the current 3.75 percent interest rate on the loan is kept.
“The interest rate is capped at 4 percent,” Murray explained, “so the highest the interest rate will go is 4 percent.”
He added that the interest rate for the first quarter of 2011 will be set in mid-December.
“It’s unlikely that the interest rate will go down, and it’s unlikely that it will rise a full quarter point, too,” Murray explained.
TCMH and the USDA should have all of the documents in place during the first quarter of 2011.
The preliminary construction timetable has TCMH breaking ground on the project in April or May. A two-phase project, the first phase of construction-the 58,000 square foot expansion-is expected to take about one year to build with a projected completion of April or May 2012. Phase two, the related renovation and remodeling of various TCMH departments, is expected to take until December 2012.
Linda Pamperien, chief financial officer at TCMH, does not yet know the expected payment schedule for the 30-year USDA loan.
“We currently have several things that are about to be paid off that will decrease the TCMH debt load,” Pamperien explained.
In December 2010, TCMH will pay off the magnetic resonance imaging machine (MRI) that was purchased in 2005. TCMH also has outstanding bonds on older construction projects. Those bonds will be paid off in 2011.
TCMH does not receive any type of county tax funding to pay for construction or operations at the county-owned hospital. Payments for the expansion project will be funded through regular hospital operations.
“I’m proud that we are able to give our patients a hospital that they can be proud of and a hospital that will meet their healthcare needs will into this century without having to ask for tax funding to make it possible,” Murray said.
Congratulatory messages from members of the public that learned of the financing received for the project were shared with board members.
“We have received a lot of positive feedback from the community regarding the expansion project,” Murray said.
A Springfield television news station came to the TCMH campus to cover news of the project. Several radio stations and newspapers have also covered the story.
Recruiting efforts at the hospital will continue as TCMH strives to find the right physicians to work in the Licking and Mountain Grove clinics.
“We can highlight this expansion project to physicians we are trying to recruit,” Murray said.
On Sept. 30, Murray and Joleen Senter Durham, director of physician recruiting at TCMH, traveled to a recruiting event for resident physicians at the University of Missouri in Columbia.
Murray and Durham also provided lunch and met with the residents at the Cox Family Medicine Residency program in Springfield on Oct. 22.
“Recruiting of primary care physicians continues to be extremely competitive,” Durham explained. “But we made a few good contacts that I will continue to follow up with.”
Currently, Durham’s best prospects are physicians that are in the second year of their three-year residency programs.
Doretta Todd-Willis, chief nursing officer at TCMH, reported to board members that a new nurse call system will be in place in the medical surgical department later this year.
“This wireless system will eliminate the bedside paging system that has been in place at TCMH for many years,” Willis said.
She noted that patients consistently complained about the noisy paging system that disrupts patients in the hospital while they are trying to rest during the day.
Funding for the $15,000 wireless call system was made possible through a grant from the TCMH Healthcare Foundation and the Timmons Foundation, which partnered together to purchase the technological upgrade.
“Even after the expansion is complete, we can continue to use this system, possibly extending it to additional patient care areas, too,” Murray explained.
Although inpatient volume was down slightly in September, Pamperien reported that outpatient revenue was up $285,756 for the month.
“All departments except for two had increased outpatient volumes during the month of September,” Pamperien said.
TCMH ended September with a positive bottom line of $14,780, bringing the year-to-date balance up to $50,824.
Present at the meeting were Murray; Pamperien; Durham; Todd-Willis; Dr. Charles Mueller, chief of staff; Dr. Charlie Rasmussen, vice chief of staff; and board members Omanez Fockler, Jane Kirkwood and Janet Wiseman. Board members Mark Hampton and Mark Forbes were absent.
The next meeting of the TCMH board of trustees is noon Tuesday, Nov. 23, in the downstairs meeting room of the hospital.
*The board received a timetable for its expansion project.
*Members heard an update on physican recruitment efforts andlearned that the institution turned a profit in September.
*A new wireless call system will be installed.