HJ - Standard CRHC

Clarinda Regional Health Center board of trustees took the first of what is expected to be many steps Jan. 28 for an estimated $10 million proposed expansion of the center’s facilities.

“The plans are not final. We expect changes,” said center Chief Executive Officer Chuck Nordyke after the meeting.

The proposal includes building a facility for physical therapy and expanded parking on the undeveloped land east of existing hospital. Work also includes expanding the surgery department on the west side of the hospital, plus pharmacy, therapy and specialty clinic remodeling within the building.

“We were looking at expansion of the surgery area and for more surgical services. We don’t want to see these patients leave,” Nordyke said. “Surgeons have said there are delays or too much scheduled on one day. When expanding our building, we have to think of future needs.”

Based on current trends, the forecast revenue because of the expanded departments could increase between $310,000 to $684,000 annually.

Nordyke said the center is dominated by arthroscopies which are minimally invasive procedures.

“Those are quick, easy and don’t need anything big. Actual surgeries have been on the decline. Why? We have been aggressively recruiting specialties to get those numbers up and we are working with visiting specialists to work with more cases,” Nordyke said.

Nordyke wants as many potential patients to stay in Clarinda.

“If we can safely provide these services, I’m 100 % certain I want to get it done here as soon as we can. Seeing why we transfer (patients), there is no reason why we should send these people away,” he said.

Last year, the center purchased the neighbor Walker-Merrick-Eickemeyer and Wolfe funeral home building to house mental-health services. The building is undergoing extensive remodeling.

“The cost to add locations at the (hospital) building was several million. That would have given us some needs, but not mental health, oncology and other things. When the funeral home was available, we thought we could do it for a much lower cost and do things that are nice for now and the future,” Nordyke said.

Nordyke said it is still too early to know when hammers will start swinging.

“Work will be done in phases and that depends on some factors,” Nordyke said. “We can put up the physical therapy building, and then start on the surgery. We get the building part done. Once therapy is done, all the departments will move then we start on the remodel inside.”

Nordyke called the project a multi-year plan.

“Because this is so preliminary, and the need to get the funds, we need to get something to the USDA,” he said. “They know it’s preliminary.”

Strategy is to use a USDA loan and have a 25-year payback. Based on expected amount borrowed, a 25-year plan saves on interest.

Nordyke, who began the position in summer 2018, said his previous positions influenced him to want to be in Clarinda.

“I had been working with hospital challenges and future needs. When I came to Clarinda, I thought the facility was beautiful, but after talking with providers and staff, I learned how limited we were on space,” he said.

Clarinda Regional Health Center opened its new building in January 2012.

“When the hospital was built, there was a design for expansion. I would think if it was financially possible, it would have been great to frame in the space. But it’s easy to be a Monday morning quarterback.”

The board’s next regularly scheduled meeting is 5 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 25 in the center’s conference room.

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