DARLINGTON – Recently Memorial Hospital of Lafayette County was informed that their Family Health of Lafayette County clinics in Darlington and Shullsburg had achieved Rural Health Care Status.
At the Hospital Committee meeting on Thursday, March 29, CEO Julie Chikowski told the members the very exciting news and mentioned how it was a huge accomplishment for them, giving much credit to COO Kathy Kuepers.
The subject of the Argyle Clinic was once again brought up. Chikowski stated that the only issue with Argyle is the building is not up to code to achieve RHC status.
“We have the infrastructure there but not the physical plant,” Chikowski informed.
Chairman Jack Sauer asked Dr. Matt Solverson why the Shullsburg Clinic was remodeled in 2006. Solverson stated that Dr. Bob Bernadoni and Dr. Lori Neumann were in charge of the clinics at that time. In 2005, there were water issues in the building along with small exam rooms and the building was not structurally sound.
“It was an old lumber yard office clinic. Bob and Lori wanted to invest in Shullsburg. They obtained the Argyle Clinic in 1995 when Monroe pulled out. Slowly they grew it into what it is now,” Solverson said.
Sauer updated the board on how the land purchase agreement was going with Philip Steiner. They are working on a price agreement and haven’t taken anything to the county board yet because they need to do title work and a survey done of the property.
“It is going to take some time, but it will pay off to do this. We are moving forward at a slower pace than I would have hoped but we’re getting stuff done,” Sauer said.
Solverson asked if the committee could make a motion to go to the county board and ask for bids for building the clinic on the notion that the county board accepts the purchase of the land.
“If we know the steps needed to do this, why don’t we get those steps laid out so when we need to execute them we can do that right away,” Solverson questioned.
Gerald Heimann agreed stating, “I see your purpose because that multi-purpose building should have been built sooner. We lost a whole year on that.”
Sauer said that by next month, they should have the land finalized and can start to get things underway.
Chikowski described that they would like to have an approximate 40-foot by 60-foot building with six exam rooms, a lab, waiting room, bathrooms, and a clean and dirty storage.
“We can do an RFP (request for proposal) at anytime,” Chikowski informed.
Sauer thought they should start the process now so they could get a better idea of what it will cost.
Bob Boyle asked when they had planned to break ground on the project. Larry Ludlum joked as soon as they close on the purchase. Sauer said it wasn’t going to be that simple. There is a water main that runs through the property and the committee and the village need to decide who is going to pay for that. He also wants to make sure they can build across lot lines.
“If it was just me I would do it but since we are acting for a public entity, I want to make sure it is all okay,” Sauer added.
Solverson made the motion to send out an RFP for a design build on the future Argyle Clinic with Bev Anderson seconding. The vote passed unanimously.
Chikowski asked that since two of the three clinics had their RHCS approved, she wanted the committee to consider the compensation they had discussed about two years ago. The committee had made a motion to give Chikowski and Kuepers $5,000 compensation on achieving RHCS. Chikowski asked the committee to consider only giving 2/3 of that since only two of the clinics have achieved RHCS.
“Our goals were to implement EPIC and get the clinics situated and we achieved that,” Chikowski said. She then added, “I don’t think Argyle is achievable in my time frame,” stating that she has plans to retire in January or February of 2019 to be closer to her family.
Boyle made the motion with Ludlum seconding. It passed unanimously.
Chikowski informed the board that they have spent everything in the EPIC loan. They did come under budget but were able to use those additional funds to purchase Omnicell. There is still $50,000 on the clinic loan and items that will be purchased with that extra money in the future.
The Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative is currently on $4,800 a month. Before the EPIC transition, that used to be $49,000 a month. The hospital recently paid the EPIC annual maintenance, which was $365,000 a year, which is a savings of $223,000. Kuepers stated that being able to communicate between the clinics and the hospital has been really helpful and effective.