By Amanda McBride The Choctaw Plaindealer
Plans for the current hospital in Choctaw County were a topic of discussion in the February 11 Board of Supervisors meeting.
Steve Fontaine, vice president of hospital operations for Pioneer Health Services, said Pioneer Community Hospital of Choctaw plans to occupy the new hospital in July or August 2013, pending final inspection from the state. Once they move into the new hospital, Pioneer plans to keep the inpatient psych unit at the current hospital and to expand the Choctaw County Nursing Center.
Fontaine said Pioneer would like to take the 13 beds, at the nursing center, out of abeyance and use them for an Alzheimer’s Unit at the current hospital. He said the additional space would be used for offices and storage for the nursing center. If allowed to do this, Pioneer would create 6-8 additional jobs.
He also added that Pioneer could only pay “minimal rent” for the use of that building.
“I’ll be direct. We can’t pay a lot of rent because it’s an old building, needs renovations….and our hands are tied with other lease payments here,” said Fontaine.
He said they are willing to pay $1,500 per month with them paying for the needed renovations and maintenance. The county would be responsible for the current leaks in the roof near the emergency room and the HVAC system.
District 3 Supervisor Chris McIntire, also board president, said $1,500 per month seems low. Fontaine responded by saying that “we (Pioneer) would have a lot of skin in the game” and “a lot of costs on the front end.”
The supervisor asked Pioneer to submit a business plan to them for their plans for the current hospital building.
Fontaine also gave an update on the collection summary of which Pioneer is collecting payments for Choctaw County for services during the management period. There is $458,000 in gross claims that has not been collected yet because of software issues with the claims filing company. He said that the county could file a formal appeal to the state to collect on those claims. After a brief discussion, the board approved for Pioneer to file the appeal on their behalf with no additional costs outside of the normal collection fee.
While giving an update on Pioneer services, Fontaine announced that Krista Blaylock, nurse practitioner at the Weir Clinic would be leaving at the end of February, when her contract is up.
“We would like to keep it (Weir Clinic) open one to two days a week, if we can find a part-time provider,” said Fontaine. He added that no notices of a clinic closure have been not been sent to patients.
Fontaine also announced that Lauren Williams, hospital administrator, is no longer working with Pioneer Community Hospital of Choctaw. He said that he and Sean Johnson, former PCH-Choctaw administrator, would handle day-to-day operations until one can be found.
The Board of Supervisors also approved: -Agenda -For District 4 to hire an emergency, temporary, full-time position not to exceed $12 per hour. -Travel to MAS Minority Caucus in May. -Travel for emergency manager to required conference in April. -To authorize the Chancery clerk to sign a letter of representation for Depository Trust for them to hold the county’s bonds. -Inventory deletion. -To invocate the automatic renewal in the contract with MedStat Emergency Services (ambulance). -Annual donation of $5,000 to the Summer Youth baseball and softball program. -Travel for tax assessor to required training. -Invoice from Pryor & Morrow for $23,191.74 for architect fees on the hospital re-roof project to be paid out of Fund 125. -To receive a $75,000 lease payment from Pioneer Community Hospital of Choctaw and to order the clerk to issue a demand check for $75,500 to Pioneer for indigent care. -To take bids received for ultrasound equipment under advisement until the February 28 meeting and for the bids to be reviewed by Pioneer.
The Choctaw County Board of Supervisors next meeting will be Thursday, Feb. 28 at 9 a.m. at the courthouse.