Visitors tour the expansion project recently at Texas County Memorial Hospital. (File photo)

The Texas County Memorial Hospital board of trustees received an update on plans to move into the second floor of its new building and the addition of urgent care in the emergency department.

Doretta Todd-Willis, chief nursing officer at TCMH, told board members at last week’s meeting the medical surgical department will move June 14. She said the state hospital inspection will be done a few days before the move.

Med-surg patients will be moved in the middle of the day via the new patient/staff elevator.

“We expect the med surg move to go just as smoothly as the move we made to the first floor with the emergency and radiology departments,” said Wes Murray, chief executive officer at TCMH.

Murray, Todd-Willis and other department directors and staff members were on hand in the wee hours of the morning May 20 when the emergency department moved into its new location. According to Murray, the TCMH emergency department was “busy” on the evening of May 19, but only one patient was actually cared for inside the old emergency department and moved to the new emergency department for continued care.

“We closed the door to the old emergency department and put a sign out to inform patients that the department had relocated,” Murray said.

Murray complimented Dr. Jeff Kerr, emergency department medical director, for the “positive support” he provided in moving to the new construction.

“Dr. Kerr worked that first night in the new ER, and it was a very exciting time for him,” Murray said.

Kerr is working with other members of the TCMH emergency department in planning the addition of an urgent care track that will be utilized during peak hours in the department.

“Dr. Kerr and the staff are still tweaking a few things related to the flow of the new department,” Murray said.

The urgent care will also open after the new helipad on the east side of the new construction is painted and receives Federal Aviation Administration approval. The concrete landing pad for the helicopters has been poured. It still requires a few additional days to cure before paint can be applied.

The new helipad is steps from the new emergency department with its own entrance/exit in the department. Currently, the old helipad is being used for air emergency transportation and patients are being taken via ambulance to the helipad.

Renovation is underway in the portions of the hospital that have been vacated following moves by departments like radiology and ER.

“We have scaled back some of our renovation plans, and our architects have asked the contractors to re-bid the renovation work,” Murray said.

Working with HMN Architects, the changes in renovation plans will save TCMH some funds from the $18.1 million U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development low-interest loan. Those funds can be applied to other items that TCMH purchased — such as new radiology equipment — for the new construction.

“We want to make the best use of the funds we have available,” Murray said.

At the April TCMH board of trustees meeting, members unanimously approved a resolution to seek tax credits from the Missouri Department of Revenue for the construction of the tornado safe room and surgery department. This month, board members agreed unanimously to approve a similar resolution with the Delta Region Authority needed for the tax credit application through the DRA. The resolution follows up a tax credit resolution passed in April. It is the second step requiring board member action in order to proceed forward in pursuing tax credits.

TCMH is seeking $250,000 in tax credits to match an additional $250,000 to be raised by the TCMH Healthcare Foundation to complete the $3.2 million Care for Your Future capital campaign to build a new surgery department and tornado safe room for the hospital.

“These tax credits are through a program administered by the Delta Region Authority,” Murray said, explaining that the tax credits are not part of the “Neighborhood Assistance Program” or NAP credits that other area projects have used.

Murray noted that some donors or would-be donors to the Care for Your Future campaign have expressed interest in utilizing tax credits as part of a donation.

TCMH board members also unanimously approved bylaws for an area hospital network group, contingent upon the participation of other area hospitals. The network would include Phelps County Regional Medical Center in Rolla; Ozarks Medical Center in West Plains; Salem Memorial District Hospital in Salem; and Fulton County Hospital in Salem, Ark.

The hospitals — all within a 200-mile radius of each other — would have a membership, and member hospitals would be able to join together to provide services, to save money and to operate with greater efficiency. Examples of the network operations might include purchasing employee health insurance, sharing a physician specialist or purchasing equipment.

“Our attorney, as well as all of the other attorneys that work for the hospitals involved in the network, has approved these bylaws, and the other hospital boards have also approved these bylaws, contingent on the participation of the other area hospitals,” Murray said.

Through the network, member hospitals will pay an annual membership fee based on the size of the hospital. Member hospitals will have the opportunity to opt in or to opt out of specific things in the network, which also provides the opportunity for member hospitals to take part in a lean management study for organizational efficiency and work optimization, individualized for each.

“The first year, we are committed to staying in the network for one year,” Murray said. “After the first year, we must provide 90 days notice to withdraw from the network.”

Linda Pamperien, chief financial officer at TCMH, presented the financial report for April, which showed a drop in inpatient and outpatient volumes and outpatient revenues. Pamperien attributed the drop to physicians taking vacation during the month. TCMH had a negative bottom line of $154,795 for April, leaving a negative year-to-date bottom line of $307,618.

Present at the meeting were Todd-Willis; Murray; Pamperien; Dr. Matthew Brown, vice chief of staff; Joleen Senter Durham, director of public relations; Dr. Charles Mueller; and board members Omanez Fockler, Janet Wiseman, Russell Gaither, Jim Perry, OD, and Mark Hampton.

The next meeting of the TCMH board of trustees is noon Tuesday, June 25, in the downstairs meeting room of the hospital.

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