HCHC looking at negative cash flow for FY19

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


Henry County Health Center is hoping to decrease some avoidable costs by connecting their power to an underground line.

In the past year, the hospital has had eight flickers of power, prompting the generator to kick on. These flickers of power are because of squirrels, trees and other avoidable interferences with the power line connected to a substation by Saunders Park. This costs the hospital $5,000 each time because everything has to be reset when the power is reconnected.

HCHC is ?piggybacking? onto the city of Mt. Pleasant to bury a powerline from the substation at Saunders Park to reduce these outages, HCHC CFO Dave Muhs said during a Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday, May 15. Muhs explained that of the eight power outages the hospital had last year, five would have been avoidable if this line were underground.

This is just one of the ways the hospital is looking at getting ?nickels and dimes? where they can, Muhs said as he discussed the 2019 fiscal budget. Adding a rural health clinic next year and a full time OBGYN again are contributing factors to budget increases. Muhs said the hospital will ?eek? out a bottom line next year and is looking at negative cash flow because of the upcoming construction and infrastructure.

To alleviate some of these costs, the hospital is considering what grants and USDA loans they can apply for.

As Muhs looks towards fiscal year 2019, HCHC CEO Robb Gardner updated the board on their current financial situation, saying that the month of May started slowly with many key health care providers on vacation. With a decrease in surgeries occurring in May, Gardner hesitantly said they might be able to recover in June and ?get into place for next fiscal year.?

Gardner also mentioned that with four full-time Emergency Room doctors starting in July and August, the hospital is moving in the right direction.

?We?re doing so many things right, it?s just things are beyond our control,? Gardner said.

That isn?t stopping hospital improvements, however, with the board approving to begin parking lot construction.

The first phase of construction will be in the north edge of the associates parking lot. From there, construction will move on to the 2000 addition, just outside the entry point to Family Medicine, Gardner said.

Construction of the parking lot will be a four- to five-year process, which Muhs said will be less disruptive and leave the hospital with a better product.

In other news, the board honored Dr. Tom Bainbridge with the Hobbie Award. The Hobbie Award is an award created in honor of Wanita Hobbie for 38 years of service and is given to individuals associated with HCHC who display the same amount of commitment, who always go above and beyond and give their life and commitment to HCHC and caring for their patients.

Bainbridge is retiring at the end of May after 26 years of service.

?I?ve known a lot of physicians in my years in healthcare. No one is kinder, more committed and more compassionate than this man,? Gardner said.

?I did have the privilege of working with Wanita (Hobbie) on the board, so this means a lot to me,? Bainbridge said to the board.

Bainbridge is a doctor of internal medicine and nephrology.

Gardner also informed the Board of Trustees that they were recognized as a three star hospital by the Iowa Hospital Association for having all the Board of Trustee members certified in healthcare by the Iowa Hospital Association.

Gardner said this is a tremendous honor because only 11 other hospitals out of 118 are recognized. He thanked the board for their commitment and service to HCHC.

The next Board of Trustees meeting will be Tuesday, June 19.