Hospital group to tackle showers

A hospital facilities board wants to finish the job of repairing leaking showers that led to a lawsuit settlement.

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Local News

April 30, 2024 - 3:14 PM

Allen County Regional Hospital

After 11 years, a group that oversees hospital facilities wants to fix a shower problem at Allen County Regional Hospital once and for all.

There’s no immediate issue, Frank Hayden, critical access region facilities manager for the Saint Luke’s Health System, assured the hospital facilities committee at a meeting last week. Leaking showers in in-patient rooms have either been repaired or are not in use, but an engineer will need to study the situation to find a more permanent solution. 

“It’s been manageable,” Hayden said. “When I first came down here, we did have some leaking and we were able to arrest that. We couldn’t take care of the past damage and rusted conditions without going into a full-scale demo. Some of the cracks in the slab may be from past water filtration.”

Leaking showers have plagued ACRH since it was built in 2013. The county filed a lawsuit against contractors and won judgment in 2019 for $135,000 to repair showers in 12 rooms. Months later, in 2020, Saint Luke’s Health System took over operations as part of a lease agreement. The county remains responsible for maintenance and construction, with a local committee to oversee the facilities. 

The committee decided to wait until after the transition to Saint Luke’s, in expectation they might suggest remodeling projects to better suit their needs. Indeed, Saint Luke’s did ask for an outpatient clinic and to remodel the Medical Arts Building, both of which were completed in 2022. 

“That’s the reason we held off, to see which rooms we wanted to work on,” Loren Korte, who was elected the new chairman for the group, reminded them.

Board member Jim Gilpin asked Hayden to provide a report to outline how those rooms could be renovated for different use or repaired. A lot has changed since the 2019 settlement.

“The cost of remediation has probably doubled since then, but we may have a number of rooms we aren’t going to remediate,” Gilpin said. “Some of us may not be on the board to recall these pending issues before we spend the balance on other projects.”

Since Saint Luke’s took over, Hayden’s team has been focused on higher priority matters. In addition to the renovation projects, he oversaw vital work on humidity and sterilization for the surgery department. 

“The showers are still on the table. We need to get some answers before we dive into it,” Hayden said.

He promised to have a report regarding the shower project within six months.

The topic came up when Gilpin asked about deteriorating tiles outside the emergency room entrance. Hayden said it’s possible the wrong masonry material may have been installed during initial construction, which reminded Gilpin of the showers.

HAYDEN GAVE board members a quick update on other projects.

His team has replaced three humidifiers to serve the surgery department at a cost of $136,730. Initial estimates were $240,000, so board members wondered about the savings. Hayden said the project required less demolition than expected. He still needs to purchase about $65,000 in related equipment.

The hospital also needs to replace another five humidifiers but they are less critical and repairs can be made over time. 

The board also discussed parking lots at the Medical Arts Building. Some staff members park in a lot across the street that is owned by Iola Industries. Board members suggested resealing the lot and painting parking stripes at a cost of $5,500, but they would need to discuss any such improvements with the owners. The county owns another lot to the south that also could be renovated as a parking area. 

ACRH administrator Jeremy Armstrong gave board members a brief update on operations. 

The hospital will resume sleep studies, but only an at-home version. Patients are given a device to wear while sleeping at home for a series of nights. 

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