Hospital boards tentatively OK new budgets

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The Powell Valley Healthcare Board of Directors and the Powell Hospital District Board of Trustees each gave tentative approval to budgets for the upcoming fiscal year at their respective meetings last week at Powell Valley Hospital.

Both budgets put an emphasis on capital projects. The hospital district’s budget includes the beginning of an extensive remodel of the clinic’s second floor, plus remodels of the emergency department and retail pharmacy.

“It’s our vision to put all the specialties up there [on the second floor],” Terry Odom, chief executive officer at Powell Valley Healthcare, said. “That would be orthopedics, general surgery, cardiology and OB/GYN services.”

All of the remodels are planned out over three years, with a total cost of about $2.95 million.

“We will need to ensure services to the community during construction, so this will need to be a phased project,” said Joy Coulston, PVHC’s interim chief financial officer.

The emergency department remodel will emphasize patient privacy.

“Right now, the six bays that we have are curtained off,” Odom said. “We want to improve the patient privacy ...”

Meanwhile, the PVHC budget includes replacing several pieces of equipment, among them network infrastructure, a rebuild of the PVHC website and new microbiology instrumentation.

“During the bankruptcy, we held off on some replacements, so we want to have the right technology to take care of the patients in Powell,” Odom said. “Replacement is an important part of any capital budget.”

While the hospital district budget is projected to have a deficit of $526,031, it will be coming out of reserves, not the voters’ pockets.

“I don’t know if we’ve ever asked voters for money, so we use our reserves,” Odom said. “This is the first year in probably five years that this budget has increased this much.”

Meanwhile, the PVHC budget is projected to have a surplus of $243,084, which Coulston describes as “significant.”

“We have worked hard for the past couple of years to concentrate on providing services that meet the needs of our community and at the same time managing costs, provide necessary equipment, capital and training for our employees, patients and residents,” Coulston said.

Odom also credits growth for the surplus.

“It’s because we’re managing our expenses and we’re continuing to have growth, especially in our outpatient surgery,” Odom said.

Another major highlight of the projected budgets is more money for the hospital’s nurses. In addition to 2 percent raises in June and coming up in September, the nurses also will receive a market adjustment to their salaries. Coulston said that the market adjustment will “ensure we are competitive within our market area.”

The numbers for the market adjustment are based on annual data from Wyoming Hospital Association data that the hospital receives every April.

Also going up in the new budget will be room rates (4 percent) and rates at the Powell Valley Care Center (2 percent).

“The care center rate increase will not occur until August; a 30-day notice will be sent to residents,” Coulston said. “Similar to most healthcare facilities, we need to adjust rates occasionally.”

Months after coming out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Odom is optimistic that PVHC is on the comeback trail.

“It’s a time to move on and start some growth and get re-engaged,” Odom said, “and be a part of the Powell community.”

Public hearings on the Powell Hospital District and Powell Valley Healthcare budgets are set for 5 and 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Powell Valley Hospital conference room.

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