Consultants ready to start ACH study



March 12, 2010 - 12:00 AM

Consultants laid out Thursday afternoon what they and members of the local Hospital Facilities Commission will do to help Allen County commissioners decide how to improve delivery of healthcare through Allen County Hospital.
Commissioners want to reach accord sometime this summer on whether to remodel and expand the hospital where it has stood since 1952 or build anew on another site. How to finance either option has a prominent role and commissioners would like to have a referendum on the Aug. 3 primary election ballot.
Often mentioned is a sales tax, with the amount and nature of funding dependent on what the consultants, Health Facilities Group of Wichita, projects for ACH revenue in the years ahead. To determine that requires careful examination of ACH financial records, which will start to occur after a confidentiality agreement is approved by Hospital Corporation of America, the hospital’s management group.
County Counselor Alan Weber said he thought the confidentiality agreement would be in place in a few days.
Meanwhile, said Steve Lewallen of HFG, “We are getting organized and have a lot to do corporately” to start the process of assessing the hospital’s physical structure, looking at what services now are offered, what ones might be and determining financial support. The consulting firm proposed schedules for planning and building assessment and operational and financial analysis, which were distributed yesterday.
Richard Lundstrom, also of HFG, cautioned that the outlines were “rough drafts” — they project completion of assessments July 2 — and that how quickly work started was “dependent on when we get the flow of information from the hospital,” through HCA.
Lewallen said that along with assessments of ACH, meetings would be scheduled with staff to consider what might be done and to hear expectations of those who work daily at the hospital.
Another approach rolled into the decision-making process will be focus group meetings with people from throughout the county. County Commissioner Dick Works said he thought hospital commission members should be involved in putting together the focus groups, to make certain they were representative.
Also on the consultants’ agenda is consideration of where a new hospital might be built.
“We need to develop a short list of possible sites,” Lundstrom said.
Mary Kay Heard, a member of the advisory group and Iola Industries, said the local development group owned several tracts that could be considered. She gave HFG a list.
The hospital commission will meet again Monday at 3 p.m. Its meetings are open to the public.

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