By DAVID KRIER
The Boscobel Common Council heard an update Monday night from CEO David Hartberg on changes at the hospital since it became Gundersen Boscobel Area Hospital and Clinics on Oct. 1, 2013.
“The biggest change, obviously, has been our affiliation with Gundersen on October first of last year,” Harberg said.
Hartberg stressed that despite a reorganization of the hospital board, local control is still a primary objective.
“The board has changed over to an 11-member board, six from Gundersen and five from the local community who chose to stay on,” Hartberg said. “The major decisions of the board are made by simple majority, rather than the super majority of the past. That protects local community involvement. Gundersen’s main focus is to keep control of health care local.”
Hartberg added that he and Gundersen have worked hard to make sure that previous health care insurers will continue to be accepted at Gundersen BAHC. He handed out a list of approximately 150 health insurance plans accepted in Boscobel, including Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Cigna, Dean Care, Medical Associates and Unity.
Hartberg also said that the hospital is continuously working to improve its staff of health professionals.
“One of the main things we are working on is the recruitment of physicians and specialists,” he said. “We are also looking at some remodeling, I call them ‘wise improvements’ to a facility that is both old and new.”
According to Hartberg, Gundersen BAHC will be moving to electronic health records in the coming year.
“Probably the biggest thing coming up is the shift to electronic health records,” he said. “We will have Epic as our electronic medical record keeper. That will allow us to have one data base. We’re slated to go live with that in 2015.”
Hartberg said the other major change in the past year has been the acquisition of the Boscobel Clinic, allowing the former Bluff Street Clinic to now focus on specialty services.
Hartberg said the changes have allowed the hospital to increase patient visits from 560 in 2013 to over 1,000 in just the first three months of 2014.
“We’ve also had more in-patient surgeries so far this year than all of last year,” he said.
Alderman Pete Huibregtse asked if the hospital had considered any movement toward restoring obstetric services, which were dropped in 2012, due in large part to physician malpractice concerns.
“It’s certainly not one of our focuses and goals right now,” Hartberg said, citing increased costs and risks. “It’s not a door we have closed, but it’s not one of our priorities at this time. On a quarterly basis, there are another one or two rural Wisconsin hospitals that are dropping OB services.”
Mayor Steve Wetter said he thought the transition to Gundersen has gone well and looked to more improvements in the future.
“We’re over a $14 million organization with 150 employees and looking to grow,” responded Hartberg. “We know we have to do better, and the only way to do that is to keep working hard. We want you as a community to be proud of your local hospital.”
In the business portion of Monday night’s meeting, the Council:
•Authorized carrying over unspent funds budgeted for 2013 into 2014;
•Approved Vierbicher to complete an environmental review for the Hinman Lift Station Project;
•Elected Milt Cashman as the new Council President over Barb Bell by a 6-2 vote. Cashman replaces Huibregtse, who said he could “very possibly” be moving from Boscobel in the coming year.