According to Hospital Administrator David Abercrombie, the hospital groundbreaking ceremony is set for 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 18, at the site of the new hospital (the old Madison High property near NFCC). Everyone is invited to attend. It was changed from the Nov. 4 date due to schedule conflicts.
Tag Archive for hospital
By Jacob Bembry
Greene Publishing, Inc.
A public hearing will be held on the issuance of hospital revenue bonds and bond anticipation notes for Madison County Memorial Hospital. The meeting will be held Thursday, Nov. 1, at noon at Madison County Memorial Hospital.
The bond and notes are in the amount of $22,543,400. Visit our E-edition site for full story or buy a copy of tomorrow’s Madison County Carrier at newsstands throughout the county
Greene Publishing, Inc.
The Madison City Commissioners have completed the loop of entities to approve $250,000 of surtax funds to Madison County Memorial Hospital for indigent care. The plan approved by the Madison County Commissioners and Greenville Town Council was approved in Madison at the regular meeting of the board on August 9. The Lee Town Council has not voted on the matter yet.
Madison County Clerk of Court Tim Sanders explained the idea to the commissioners. The money will come from the one-cent surtax voted into existence in 1989, primarily to raise funds to remodel the old jail on Pinckney Street, or to build a new one. Since then, it has funded the extension of water and sewer lines from Lee, Madison, and Greenville, to the I-10 interchanges and about $288,000 annually to EMS. According to Sanders, a final loan payment in 2012 will free up money for another purpose.
Local residents spoke about the need for indigent funding, and smiled approvingly when the board voted unanimously on a motion by Commissioners Myra Valentine and Jim Stanley to allow the funds to be used for that purpose.
In other business, the commissioners approved on its second reading an ordinance to apply for a Housing Rehabilitation grant. They dismissed the possibility of applying for a Commercial Revitalization grant after Stanley reported, “The merchants do not want it.”
The board also unanimously approved the sale of property just north of the old metal processing plant on Hwy. 14 for $10,000 per acre. The site was previously the city dump, and will become a salvage yard.
The buyers will agree to install screening so that the yard is not visible from the highway. The city will pay for a survey of a small strip across the north end of the property where utilities run. The buyer has already paid for a survey of the entire site. City Attorney Clay Schnitker should have the required documents prepared within two weeks.
By David Abercrombie, MCMH CEO
The process of selecting a general contractor to build the new hospital is somewhat long. First, the District board had to decide whether to use a Lump Sum bid process (the conventional method) or go with a Contractor at Risk (C@R) process. They chose the C@R process because it guarantees a maximum price (GMP). If the project goes over the GMP the contractor “eats” the difference. But really the C@R method of construction has several advantages.
With the conventional Lump Sum approach, the contractor is selected based on low price bid. There is no open book budget and if there is any savings it goes to the contractor, not the owner. In my way of thinking, this can encourage a company to cut corners with quality. Another disadvantage of the Lump Sum Approach is that the owner has no control over subcontractor qualifications; nor does the owner have the ability to fast track the project.
With the C@R process, the Hospital District board selects the contractor based on qualifications and a negotiated fee. There is also the advantage of open book accounting. There is the ability to pre-purchase building supplies and services so if there is a saving on the project it is returned to the owner. There is also much greater owner input into the construction schedule.
The USDA approved using the C@R construction method on March 3, 2011, pending their approval of a selection process based on free and open competition and agreement by the USDA in the actual selection of the contractor.
The District sent out a Request for Proposals (RFP) to find construction companies interested in building the new hospital. Seven major general contracting firms from around the state responded. They were from Tallahassee and surrounding area, Gainesville, Orlando and Jacksonville. The companies submitted very detailed proposals. There were nine key parts to each proposal. An example of a key part is: how the contractor intends to advertise for, qualify, and use subcontractors.
A meeting was then set up with the USDA at their Lake City office to discuss the qualification of the contracting firms who submitted proposals, and to go over the process that would be used to select the contractor. The USDA brought in the head of their architectural office from Gainesville, as well as their regional director, to go over the materials and participate in the discussion. The USDA approved all the companies who submitted proposals. The head USDA architect told hospital representatives that the process was proceeding exactly right.
The District board then spent about 10 days reading the seven proposals. A selection grid was developed to score each key part of each proposal. On May 17, a quorum of board members met in an open meeting and participated in the scoring. The key parts of each proposal were given a number from lowest to highest. Each Board member scored all nine key parts included in all seven different proposals. These scores were counted and the contractor with the highest number of points was put at the top of the list. The contractor with the second highest number was put at number two, and so on.
The Board decided to interview those companies with the four highest scores. The four companies were (in alphabetical order) Ajax, Batson-Cook, Childers/Culpepper and Robbins & Morton.
Representatives from each of these four companies were asked to attend a face-to-face interview to defend their proposals. Another scoring grid was developed. A quorum of district board members participated in the open interview on June 6th and once again gave numeric scores, this time based on the key parts of their proposal defense.
The two total scores (from the proposal and from the interview) were added together to get a total score for each company. The four companies were listed from the highest total score to the lowest total score. The interview questions and other materials and documents were then hand-carried (for the purpose of speed) to the USDA in Lake City for their review.
On July 6, the USDA sent the Hospital District a letter stating that “…the USDA/RD concurs that the selected CM [construction management] firm is qualified for the job and the hospital has gone through the appropriate process and proper due diligence for the selection as required by RD [Rural Development] instructions.” The District immediately began negotiations with the high scoring company, Culpepper/Childers of Tallahassee. Culpepper/Childress is a joint venture between two big and stable companies with 80 and 47 years’ building experience respectively. Their projects encompass nearly 80 healthcare projects, including work for Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare System, Capital Regional Medical Center, and Archbold Memorial Hospital.
The negotiations with Culpepper/Childress are not yet complete, but are expected to be completed this week. Should negotiations not be successful, then negotiations will begin with the contracting company with the second highest total points scored. As you see, the process is a highly weighted process performed at arms-length with the oversight of the USDA. It’s a good process and I think the Board has selected an excellent company to build your new hospital.
How financially feasible do you feel the new hospital will be and what means will be used to maintain it?
By David Abercrombie, MCMH CEO
It is feasible to build a new hospital because financing has already been found and the method to pay back the loan has also been found and arranged.
In September 2010, the United States Department of Agriculture/Rural Development (USDA) obligated $22,543,400 to loan to the Madison County Health and Hospital District (District) for the purpose of building a new hospital and buying the equipment and furnishings that go inside. The money will be paid back to the USDA by the District over a span of forty years at a rate of interest of about 3.75%.
Before agreeing to make the loan to the District the USDA required that an accounting firm be engaged to determine if a new hospital would be financially feasible. The USDA does not allow hospitals to pick just any firm to conduct this study. It had to be a firm with experience doing this and one already on a list of “approved” firms. The District engaged EideBaily (EB) of North Dakota to perform this study. The USDA’s national office in Washington concluded that EideBaily was well known by the USDA, had done many USDA financial feasibility projects, and is well respected for their work. They were approved to do the job.
Two years later EB completed the study. It was found that the annual cost (like the mortgage on a house) would be $1,200,000 a year. The EB study also found that payment to the hospital for services provided to its Medicare patients would increase by about $630,000 a year. This is because the federal government structures payments to critical access hospitals in a way to encourage replacing out-of-date rural hospital buildings.
Additionally, back in November, 2006, the citizens of Madison County voted themselves a ½ cent sales tax to help pay the costs of replacing the hospital with a new hospital. This amount comes to roughly $470,000-$500,000 a year. It is kept in an account controlled by the Clerk of Court.
At this point, we have to stop and do some quick addition: $630,000 a year in increased Medicare collections + $470,000 a year in Madison County Sales Tax = $1,100,000. At this point in our math, we’re still $100,000 short of the amount needed to pay the $1,200,000 annual mortgage.
The federal government has required that all hospitals across the country install an electronic health record (EMR) system by the Year 2015. To help make it financially doable, the federal government will pay these hospitals a total of about $1,500,000 spread over four years ($375,000 a year).
If hospitals don’t comply with this new federal law, then in the Year 2015-16 Medicare will start withholding about 20% of payments to these hospitals for their provision of services to their Medicare patients.
So, the District has no choice but to implement this EMR system. Fortunately for the people of Madison, this EMR is already part of building a new hospital! You can’t operate a hospital without a computer system any more than you can operate a bank without a computer system.
Time for us to do more math: $1,100,000 from Medicare and Sales tax + $375,000 Reimbursement for the EMR system = $1,475,000. This is more than enough “guaranteed” money to pay the annual “mortgage” cost of a new hospital. So in answer to the question, “Is it financially feasible to build a new hospital?” The answer is “Yes.”
The more important part of today’s question is, “…and what means will be used to maintain it?” This second part of the question doesn’t have a clear answer because it is based on unknowable things. Being able to maintain it will rely on our good planning, good execution of the plans, and the hope that something significant doesn’t change. It also relies on a belief in people of Madison County. The belief that good medicine put in a good modern building will be supported. After all, the Mayo Clinic would fail if no one chose to support it.
About fifty percent of all this hospital’s patients are Medicare patients. We believe this new hospital can be financially maintained because its floor plan design maximizes the amount of money Medicare pays the hospital for its services. The more square footage in the building set aside for patient care and the less square footage designed for support areas, the more money Medicare will pay the hospital. The opposite is also true – the more space used for support areas and less used for patient care, then the less money Medicare will pay the hospital for its services.
The current hospital was designed back in 1953-54. It is an example of too little space set aside for patient care. This new hospital will give a greater part of its space for patient care. This switch of square footage will increase the amount of money collected from Medicare. The building will be energy efficient, with a cutting edge air conditioning and heating design that is so modern that it is the first approved for hospital use in Florida.
There will also be many service line improvements that are not possible in the current building. These improvements to patient services are estimated to increase the annual cash collections of the hospital by about $1,000,000 each year. Over the course of three to five years AFTER the hospital is built, more patient care additions and improvements are planned. Their descriptions are too detailed for the purposes of today’s article, but they will greatly improve healthcare in Madison County. They should also result in sizable increases in hospital revenue and the hospital’s economic impact contribution to the local economy.
I cannot over-emphasize that to succeed the people of Madison County must use their hospital rather than someone else’s. The actual success or failure of this new hospital will lie directly in the hands of us citizens of our county. In my view, we may either act as if we have a county-wide inferiority complex believing Madison County isn’t capable of delivering good medical care; or we will act with that same pride and support that propelled our little league baseball team and our high school football team to win State championships. Is it something in the water that makes these teams successful? Heck no! It’s because we believed those kids could do anything – and we supported them.
By David Abercrombie,
The hospital provides about $3,000,000 each year in uncompensated care. These are patient charges, not the actual cost to the hospital. Uncompensated care includes various sub-categories such as charity care, the amount of our actual expense not covered by Medicaid… and about $2,000,000 in indigent care charges. The actual cost to the hospital to provide this care is roughly 75% of these charges. The subject of this article is just this indigent care portion.
You might think an indigent hospital patient is simply a person who cannot –or won’t- pay for his or her healthcare services at the hospital. But actually, to be classified as indigent a patient must meet strict State of Florida’s qualifying criteria. It works like this: If a patient comes to the hospital needing healthcare but has no resources to pay for the care, then a financial counselor determines if the patient might qualify for the County indigent care benefit. If so, the patient is asked to complete an application documenting how he or she meets the State of Florida criteria. The criterion the patient must meet includes information on total household income and the number of persons in the family. The only exception to this is if the patient is an emergency, then care is provided before any financial questions are asked. Federal law mandates this.
The hospital provides the care and a bill is generated. The bill, along with required indigent qualifying documentation, is given by the hospital to the County. The County reviews the information and confirms that the patient indeed meets State criteria. If the patient does, and if there is any money in the County’s indigent care fund, then the patient’s bill is paid. If there is no money left in the fund, the hospital isn’t paid.
If a patient meeting the above criteria is classified as indigent and receives care at Madison’s hospital, but is later transferred to another hospital for further treatment, the Madison hospital still gives a bill to the County for payment of the services it provided while the patient was in Madison. It is my understanding that the out-of-county hospital will send a bill to our County too. Our county pays these out-of-the county hospitals an annual total of approximately $35,000 a year for their services to Madison’s indigent patients. Fifty percent of the current fund of about $70,000 annually goes to Madison County’s hospital and 50% of it goes to pay bills from out-of-county hospitals.
On June 29th, the Madison County Commission began the first steps to increase the fund to pay indigent healthcare claims from Madison County Memorial Hospital (MCMH) up $250,000 from its current level of about $35,000 to $285,000 ($35,000 + $250,000) a year. However, if the fund is increased, none of this additional money will be paid to out-of-county hospitals. I think that level will likely still stay at about the $35,000 mark, but that is for the County to determine.
Money received from the County in payment for indigent care will be paid to MCMH on a “one patient-by-one patient” basis. The hospital will not receive a big single or monthly check, for “indigent care.” Each claim must stand alone and make its own case for meeting State of Florida criteria.
MCMH spends about $1,750,000 a year in actual expense to provide care to indigent citizens. This money comes directly out of the hospital’s cash register (operating fund). When the hospital is reimbursed the current $35,000 a year, or the proposed additional $250,000 a year for these services, this money goes (and will continue to go) right back into the hospital’s cash register, just like a payment for services from any other payment source. It will be spent on such operational expenses as food for patients, pharmaceuticals, utilities, et cetera. It is important that everyone understand that even putting $285,000 a year toward the crushing total expense of providing care to indigent citizens, the problem continues. This is will not make it go away.
If the County’s indigent healthcare fund is in fact increased, MCMH will still continue to carry alone the annual actual expense burden of about $1,465,000 for additional indigent healthcare. Again, these are not charges to the patient; this is the actual approximate expense to the hospital.
Madison County is a beautiful place. The canopy trees on Shrine Club Road and the big oaks scattered all around the county never fail to make my heart beat a bit faster. But the fact is that Madison is a poor county and poverty isn’t beautiful. It’s awful. Whether we’re talking about how poverty affects our County’s healthcare or how it affects education, or any other integral part of the lives of its people, we can’t bury our heads in the sand and say that it is someone else’s problem, or that the hospital, or the school system, or the churches handle “that.” The upkeep on poverty is expensive and you and I own it.
Greene Publishing, Inc.
Wednesday night, June 29, the Madison County Commission convened its 6 p.m. meeting in front of a standing-room-only crowd. Every seat was taken and nearly a dozen people, including Sheriff Ben Stewart, who led the opening prayer, stood off to the side and leaned against the wall.
The Commission was meeting for two reasons: The first was to pass an emergency measure to begin the process of replacing an old bridge on Highway 150 (Lovett Road) across the Aucilla River.
The second was to decide whether or not to release $250,000 a year of the half-cent sales tax to go to the Madison County Memorial Hospital; the hospital had requested the money to help pay for the three million a year it provides in indigent care, for which it was not reimbursed by any state or federal agency.
After several minutes of discussion as to how the county would go about repairing or replacing the bridge, how long it would take, and what was involved, the measure passed 5-0.
Discussion then turned to the hospital and the meeting became a little more intense.
The audience contained several hospital employees as well as several hospital supporters; at one point Commission Chair Renetta Parrish asked how many in the audience were employees of the hospital and about six people raised their hands. Another in the audience asked, “What does that matter anyway?”
Court Clerk Tim Sanders then explained two options for refinancing another loan that the county had almost paid off, which would free up the money requested by the hospital.
Several members of the public took the podium to speak out on the issue, both for and against providing the money. Those against the measure primarily .noted what was referred to as a lack of accountability or transparency of the two-board hospital system, and questioned where the tax money was going and how it was being spent. Those for the measure spoke of Madison hospital being the only hospital in the state that was required to provide indigent care, yet receive no help with the expense other than $35,000 already mandated by the state.
After several people had spoken, the board discussed whether to vote on the matter that night or extended the discussion to two more board meetings that had been advertised. Board member Roy Ellis was ready to take action, however, and made a motion that the board pass the second of two options explained earlier and the money be released to the Hospital. Wayne Vickers seconded the motion. The motion passed with Ellis, Vickers and Hamrick voting yes; Parrish and Board member Alfred Martin voted against it.
Greene Publishing, Inc.
The board members of Madison County Hospital Health Systems, Inc., and the Madison County Health and Hospital Board held a noon meeting, one right after the other, at Lee Town Hall, Thursday, June 23.
While meeting as the first board, Board Chair Ben Harris opened the meeting with a big round of “thank you’s,” especially to Administrative Assistant Susan Yonce, who was attending her final Board meeting before “passing the torch to Crystal (Lee).”
Harris then discussed his meeting with Emerald Greene of Greene Publishing, Inc., and talked about the new feature in the Madison County Carrier both had agreed upon, “Hot Questions, Hot Topics,” in which editor Jacob Bembry would bring a question from the public to Hospital CEO David Abercrombie and have him answer it (the first installment has already run in the June 29 edition of the Carrier, where Abercrombie answered the question as to why the hospital has two boards).
Abercrombie stated that the feature was “an opportunity to keep the ball rolling,” adding that he saw it as an educational opportunity for the public as well as an opportunity for the newspaper to get its facts straight. “There is so much misunderstanding out there,” he said. “So much the public needs to know.”
Abercrombie’s remarks also referenced an earlier anecdote related by board member Oliver Bradley that a member of the public had accused the board of “hiding out” by holding their meeting in the Lee Town Hall.
They also discussed doing more advertising, since many people were unaware that they could get many procedures done at the hospital as opposed to driving to Valdosta or Tallahassee. Harris added that changes in the way Blue Cross Blue Shield viewed procedures done in a hospital versus an outpatient facility had led to Blue Cross lowering the required co-pay, a boon for patients with insurance as well as for the hospital. “We’ll be able to collect insurance for those procedures…as opposed to Medicare and Medicaid, where we lose money.”
In addition to Medicare and Medicaid, indigent care the hospital provides is another financial problem the board wants to discuss with the county commissioners at the next County Commission meeting. There is a possibility that part of the one-cent sales tax could help alleviat at least some of the indigent care deficit by at least $250,000 a year, if the Commission votes in favor of it. If it passes, said Abercrombie, “it will be the first time anybody outside the hospital has acknowledged that indigent care is a huge problem that needs to be addressed rather than left for the hospital to deal with.”
Later, during the second meeting, the board also discussed fundraising efforts, but decided that the sheer amount of funds that needed to be raised coupled with board members’ relative inexperience with fundraising of such magnitude meant that this was probably something a professional fundraiser organization should handle.
Howard Phillips proposed renaming the hospital for when the new facility was completed, and Annette Johnson suggested holding a contest to have Madison County residents to come up with a new name. Suggestions for prizes included a cash prize with each board member personally contributing a portion of the prize money, or a collection of gift cards donated by local merchants. Other ideas included getting schools involved by having each class of students come up with names; the winners would get an ice cream social, pizza party or a special field trip, with the cost split among individual board members. When the final details have been ironed out, the board will announce the dates the contest will run and how people can submit their entries.
While on the subject of names, several board members wanted to named at least one wing or some other segment within the hospital after Charlie Moore, who had been at the forefront of the new hospital effort since 1999.
Meeting as the corporate board, Madison County Hospital Health Systems, Inc., the board members noted improvement in the “swing bed” numbers and were pleased with the higher volume of patients using the endoscopy program now the procedure was being offered every other week instead of weekly. Abercrombie noted that “it might be a pretty good fiscal year coming up.”
However, the finances still weren’t good enough for the board to hire an internist who had expressed interest in relocating from Tallahassee to a rural area like Madison. Abercombie and others expressed regret at not being about to afford the doctor yet, but hoped that they could at some point in the near future.
The county commission voted 3-2 to give half a cent from the surtax originally enacted to build the new jail to the hospital for indigent care. Commissioners Ellis, Hamrick and Vickers voted for the measure. Commissioners Martin and Parrish cast the dissenting votes. Greene Publishing will have the video by Lynette Norris online tomorrow morning.
By Jacob Bembry
Greene Publishing, Inc.
The Friends of Madison County Memorial Hospital held a dinner on Thursday evening, April 14, in the hospital’s dining room.
“This will be one of several that will be held over the next few months,” said Vicki Howerton, MCMH Community Relations Coordinator.
Ray Griffin served as chef for the occasion. He prepared a spaghetti dinner with salad, garlic bread, tea and a vast array of special desserts. Helping Griffin were Chris Day, Caitlin Griffin, Hannah Odiorne, Adam Odiorne and Aaron Brown.
Day and Griffin will be on a missions team headed to Haiti, while the Odiornes and Aaron Brown will be on a mission, sharing God’s love with the people of Brazil.
Dr. James Stockwell was one of the speakers at an informational meeting. Stockwell is a noted gastroenterologist who comes to MCMH each Tuesday for endoscopy and colonoscopy procedures.
Rep. Leonard Bembry (D-Greenville) spoke to the group concerning the necessity of the new hospital for all families in the county and in the area.
Kin Johnson, a local businessman, suggested that all local businesses have signs concerning the new hospital displayed, as well as having bumper stickers.
David Abercrombie reminded everyone that Tallahassee Orthopedics Clinic now comes to the Four Freedoms Clinic each week. He also mentioned that Dr. Armond B. Cognetta, Jr. and other dermatologists from his clinic would be coming to Madison in May.
Abercrombie also discussed a working relationship with MCMH and North Florida Community College.
Approximately 75 people gathered to hear plans for a new hospital.
If anyone is interested in going to a community meeting in May, please call Vicki Howerton at MCMH at (850) 253-1917 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lynette Norris
Greene Publishing, Inc.
Three major themes of the March 22 Madison County Memorial Hospital board meeting were the financial struggles of small hospitals in poor rural areas, how to create more public awareness of the hospital’s work and get that information in to the hands of Madison County citizens, and of course, the new hospital.
Warren Irwin, a member of the public, addressed the board and asked about the hospital’s bad debt problem and what was being done to mitigate it.
Despite the bad debt problem, the hospital is current on its payroll and taxes, if not on general accounts, said Patrick Halfhill. When it comes to bad debt, the hospital tries for six months to collect before turning the account over to a collection agency.
However, in the second poorest county in the state with high unemployment, “it’s a constant struggle,” he said. “We try to get (patients) to go to the health department and sign up for Medicaid, but we can’t do it for them.”
Bad debt is not unique to MCMH, added Hospital CEO David Abercrombie. The entire state of Florida ranks 47th in poor financial performance of small rural hospitals, and Madison County is one of four counties with a “persistent poverty” designation. Small hospitals also have no bargaining power with insurers and other payment providers.
When it comes to indigent care, Board Chairman Ben Harris said, “Our hands are tied. By law, when someone walks into that emergency room, we have to do an evaluation.”
In addition to poverty and high unemployment, the county population also ranks number one in diabetes, stroke, hypertension, and several types of cancers, including colorectal cancer. When discussing whether or not to continue the endoscopy program (providing the vital service of diagnosing colorectal cancer) despite losing money on it, Harris spoke of a decision that was “very easy business-wise, but morally it’s very difficult…we’re caught between the extreme medical and the extreme financial.” Also, Medicaid now flags 100 percent of endoscopy procedures for review, stretching a two-week pay cycle into three months.
Tommy Hardee from the Hospital Foundation spoke about the need for getting information in front of the public. The Foundation has planned a series of three dinners for three separate groups of up to 100 people in order to get the information out to as many as possible. The youth group of the First United Methodist Church would serve the dinner in the fellowship hall where the Hospital Board would do a PowerPoint presentation of the audited financials and explain the purpose and progress of the new hospital. There was also a suggestion of holding at least some of the monthly board meetings, perhaps one per quarter, in other areas of the county such as Greenville or Lee, giving more citizens a chance to attend.
When it came to the new hospital, Abercrombie presented floor plan drawings and reported that the Agency for Health Care Administration had completed the stage one review and approved the plan. The next stage is working in the engineering components (IT system, nurse call system, HVAC system, etc.), a process expected to be completed in June.
The new facility would focus on family care and treating the whole patient. It will have a physical therapy department that could in the future expand to other types of therapy such a respiratory therapy.
Abercrombie then said that one thing that might help with the immediate cash flow problem was the new electronic record system; it would mean fewer dropped or lost charges for services, as well as getting invoices out to patients in a timely manner. The hospital will switch to the new system over a period of five days beginning April 1, and the board expects the new system to pay for itself in the first three months. Further into the future, the new facility would be reimbursed for 100 percent depreciation for every square foot devoted to patient care, bringing in more money once the new facility is up and running.
Also in the works is a joint luncheon meeting between the MCMH board and the County Commission, where the board will present the PowerPoint presentation and fill the commissioners in on what the hospital is presently doing. The meeting is planned for April 6 at noon, but the location has yet to be determined.
Water services and usage have been restored at SGMC. Other than redirecting requests to transfer patients from other hospitals, SGMC handled the water outage with no interruption or compromise to patient care. Significant action was taken to maintain sanitation, which was the greatest challenge. This required restricting visitation to emergencies only.
“We appreciate the community’s understanding and cooperation as we worked through this situation and we apologize for any inconvenience it may have caused our patients and their families,” stated Ken Kiser, Assistant Administrator of Patient Care Services. “Water is vital, especially during the flu season, to allow for adequate hand washing, sanitation and infection prevention and we did not want to compromise the care environment of our patients.”
SGMC will continue providing bottled drinking water to patients and staff until the city water supply is safe for consumption
About two weeks ago, Dr. Robert Stark joined the staff of Smith Northview Hospital as its newest OB/GYN in Valdosta, Ga..
He joins his wife, Dr. Maria Castellano, a gastroenterolgist who has been working at the Valdosta hospital since September of last year. In fact, Stark now shares an office with his wife. They have been married for sixteen years and have three school-age children, the main reason they relocated to Valdosta…more educational and other opportunities for their children. Stark has practiced in the South Georgia area for the last six years, coming to Valdosta from Waycross, and says he has found the people of Valdosta to be very friendly and welcoming to him and his family, and he looks forward to building up his practice.
Chuck Roberts, Assistant Administrator of Support Services, and Director of Business Development and Community Relations, is also in charge of recruiting doctors for the hospital. However, in Stark’s case, “We’re very fortunate that they found us,” since they were already interested in relocating to the area. They had been looking at schools for their children and took a tour of the hospital as well, and “we started talking.”
The hospital has a new $2.5 million, 6000-square-foot addition to its labor and delivery division, meaning they now have three more labor and delivery suites and two more post-partum rooms, bringing the total now to five labor and delivery rooms and fourteen post-partum rooms. With Stark now on staff, they also have a total of four full time OB/GYN’s. In 2010, the hospital delivered over 650 babies, and now with Starke on board, they hope to bump that total up to over 700 for 2011.
Stark will be building up his practice and accepting new patients in the next few months. For an appointment, contact: 229-588-4419. For a tour of the hospital or other information, contact Chuck Roberts at 229-671-2007.