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By KEVIN KOELLING
TELL CITY – “Last Thursday, we did close on a $40 million bond issue in Indianapolis,” to finance a new hospital, Joe Stuber said at a board-of-trustees meeting Wednesday.
“We were able to take advantage of a lower rate of 3.125 (percent), which the USDA was offering,” the president and chief executive officer for Perry County Memorial Hospital continued. The News reported a year ago a finance program offered by the rural-development arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture was being eyed to fund the new building.
“When we put together our feasibility study, the interest rate then was 3.5 percent.” That will mean “a pretty significant savings’ over the 40-year repayment period, he added.
A preconstruction meeting with contractor Weddle Brothers Construction Co. of Bloomington was conducted after the closing, Stuber said, “and they announced that they were going to mobilize on April 8.” That will signify the beginning of construction for the new facility on property the hospital purchased along Indiana 237.
“They’re estimating an 18-month construction period,” Stuber went on, “so we should be ready to occupy toward the end of 2014.”
Changes are inevitably needed on any large construction project, he also said before securing the board’s authorization to establish a $50,000 spending limit to fund any change orders that become necessary. It would allow alterations to plans to be made without having to await the trustees’ regular meetings, he explained.
The spending “will be contingent upon consultation with the board via either e-mail or telephone.”
That would be illegal, however, according to Chris Goffinet, attorney for the board of trustees. He said Thursday a motion should have been made that would authorize Stuber to spend the money and could have stipulated a limit and requirement to report expenditures to the board.
Steve Key, executive director and general counsel for the Hoosier State Press Association, said Friday the definition of “contingent” could mean the difference between legal and illegal actions under the state’s Open Door Law. If it means the board must vote to approve the spending, that would constitute a final action that must be taken at an open meeting, the attorney explained.
An agenda for the meeting shows that only the trustees-board chairman would be consulted on the change orders. Stuber said Friday the chairman decided it would be better to inform all of the board members and give them an opportunity to respond. When the News explained the possible conflict with the Open Door Law, he said no one intended to violate it and he would consult with Goffinet.
“We’ll go back and correct that error,” he said.
In other business, Sheila Clark, vice president of nursing services, secured the board’s approval on five policies and procedures previously approved by the hospital’s medical executive committee. They were guidelines for treatment decisions, including the withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment and informed decision-making or consent for treatment. Also approved by both bodies were investigational treatments or procedures, patient rights and responsibilities, and a statement of swing-bed-patients’ rights and responsibilities.
The board also approved a contract with Press Ganey Associates of South Bend to conduct employee and physician surveys this year and in 2015. The total cost will be $54,600, according to Randy Dennison, the hospital’s vice president of support services. He also told the board about an agreement with Datamation of Willowbrook, Ill., to convert approximately 10,000 paper patient records at the Tell City Clinic to electronic documents at a cost estimated at $57,535.
The trustees also approved an agreement with Blue and Co., to perform a chargemaster review.
The primary objective of such a review, Stuber explained, “is to help ensure that the hospital is billing the technical component of its outpatient services in compliance with Medicare guidelines and receiving all covered reimbursements under CAH guidelines.”
The cost of the review is $20,000 plus out-of-pocket expenses, Stuber added, for which $25,000 was included in this year’s budget.