Nine years after one city council got the ball rolling for a new Hillsboro Community Hospital, another council took an early tour of a dream about to become reality.
After Tuesday’s council meeting, CEO Marion Regier showed council members the emergency department, physician’s clinic, and nurses stations.
A hospital room adjacent to a nursing station has a connecting window to make it easier to monitor a patient needing closer supervision.
Much of the existing hospital equipment will be moved to the new building, but all beds will be new, Regier said.
A move to the new building is tentatively scheduled for April 21. Inspections by the state fire marshal’s office and Kansas Department of Health and Environment must be completed first. Open house is planned for May 6.
Chief nursing officer Jessi Workman said Tuesday that volunteer nurses will be stationed at the old hospital during the first weekend of the new hospital’s operation.
“I’d hate for something to happen where someone having a heart attack or stroke shows up to the old building and is greeted by a sign,” Workman said.
Regier thanked the council for their support in the project.
“We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for all of you, so thank you,” Regier said. “You’ve set an example for other hospital projects.
Reached by phone, Trent Skaggs, executive vice president of Rural Community Hospitals of America, said the company is proud to have reached this point despite obstacles it had to overcome along the way.
“We’ve had a lot of black eyes along the way,” Skaggs said.
HMC/CAH Consolidated, the parent corporation that bought Hillsboro Community Hospital in 2008 with hopes of having the new facility open in 2011, instead filed bankruptcy in December of 2011. It emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January 2013.
“I can’t tell you how excited we are,” Skaggs said. “This has been in our plan since we bought the hospital nine years ago. Like everything, it’s a process that takes time, and like anything, you hang in there and you will prevail.”
Skaggs credits the unwavering support of the Hillsboro community for bringing the new facility to life.
“The reason we’ve been successful at Hillsboro is because of the engagement of the community,” Skaggs said. “That’s been key to our success. Their agenda has always been the betterment of the community.”
The opening of the new facility means that with or without RCHA, Hillsboro will have a local hospital for many years, Skaggs said.
The months of May and June will be critical for making sure surrounding communities are aware of the move and reacquainting them with services to be offered at the new site, Skaggs said.
“Hospitals then were focused on inpatient care and now we’re focused on outpatient and inpatient care,” Skaggs said.
Hillsboro Community Hospital is one of three hospitals the corporation operates in Kansas. The others are at Oswego and Horton.
The Kansas legislature on Monday failed to do one thing that would strengthen the well-being of both Kansans and hospitals when they failed to override Gov. Brownback’s veto of a bill that would expand KanCare, Skaggs said.
“I guess I would say as any health care provider, the more people we have insured, I believe the healthier the community we have,” he said. “If I have people who have a chronic health problem and they can’t afford to go to the doctor, they put it off for a long time. Eventually they’re going to report to the emergency room. A minor procedure can become life or death and a much larger and more expensive procedure is needed.”
An uninsured patient’s bill is eventually written off as bad debt, Skaggs said.
“The financial health of our hospitals is linked to coverage,” he said.