Hospital consultants pitch service



February 3, 2010 - 12:00 AM

“You can’t have a successful hospital without successful doctors, or successful doctors without a successful hospital,” Mark Tozzio told a clutch of Allen Countians Tuesday morning.
Tozzio’s was the concluding comment on behalf of Woodrum, Inc., a Broken Arrow, Okla., firm seeking to be hired to help county commissioners and a citizen advisory committee decide how best to improve Allen County Hospital.
Commissioners, committee members and a handful of others listened to presentations from three consulting firms. Also in the running are Whitestone Management, Plano, Texas, and Health Facilities Group, Wichita.
Each applicant represents a consortium of specialists who would examine ACH’s structure, layout and services and analyze income and revenue sources to support improvements, ultimately recommending either to remodel and expand ACH or build a new hospital.
Tozzio said Woodrum’s approach would be to “see how service matches up to needs and determine if you have sufficient population to support what you want to do.” He noted potential patients west, north and east of Iola, but said “you’re limited on the south by Neosho County” Regional Medical Center.
Jim Easter, also with Woodrum, said determining whether to remodel or build anew is fundamental, noting the latter often could be done as economically and completed more quickly than remodeling.
Woodrum’s services would cost $63,500. Alternates would change the price.
Whitestone put its price at $49,000. Ken Duncan, lead presenter, said Whitestone had been or was involved in “remodeling, building new or a combination of the two with 37 critical access hospitals” in the Midwest. “We design hospitals and remodels in a comfortable manner without them being ostentatious,” he said.
Whitestone would look at current and future market demand, services provided and learn why patients chose ACH or another hospital, said Eric Carlson. Pam Richter, a registered nurse, said she would examine day-to-day operations and chart the effect of ACH’s physical layout on the flow of people and materials.
The most important consideration, said Charles Simons, is affordability, and Whitestone would “blend all elements, kind of put them in a crock pot and let them cook slowly.”
Health Facilities Group, Wichita, has dealt with many Kansas hospitals, including a new one at Neodesha and expansions at Parsons and El Dorado. Health Facilities Group proposed its services for $28,500.
Phil Schultze noted that the firm on average had brought in projects 1.7 percent under budget and 22 days ahead of schedule.
Local input from citizens, commissioners, committee members and doctors and staff at the hospital would be an important component of HFG’s survey, said Steve Lewallen.
“We’re not here to tell you how to build, but to give you examples (to fit Allen County’s needs) and then help with the sale of bonds to finance the project,” he said.
“You don’t want to overbuild with a critical access hospital,” he said, rather “apply demographics and market numbers” in making the decision.
A tentative timeline HFG developed would have a remodeled and expanded hospital online in July 2013 or a new one up and running by December 2012.
COMMISSIONERS briefly discussed the three presentations with advisory committee members and found preferences mixed.
Gary McIntosh, commission chairman, said he doubted a decision would be by the time commissioners meet again Tuesday.
“We want to reach a consensus,” he said, which might involve a second interview with one or two applicants.
While they have no firm timeline, commissioners said they would like to have a funding referendum on the Aug. 3 primary election ballot.

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