By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Hospital/Manor looking to the future, goal to build new
Hospital/Manor joint meeting
Members of the Hospital and Manor Committees discuss the issues facing both MHLC and the Lafayette Manor and decide on the next step for the future of healthcare in Lafayette County at their joint meeting on Monday night, June 24. - photo by By Kayla Barnes

DARLINGTON – At the Joint Hospital and Lafayette Manor Committee meeting on Monday, June 24, MHLC CEO Kathy Kuepers and Lafayette Manor Administrator Peggy Rolli, informed committee members of their five-year plan in hopes of building new buildings for both the Hospital and the Manor on a shared site location.

This is the first meeting, in a series of meetings, which discussed the current and future state of the Lafayette Manor and Memorial Hospital of Lafayette County. The meeting was to establish their goals and to understand the board’s intentions moving forward.

Kuepers began the meeting by stating that the healthcare field is a growing industry. It has a major impact on the economic development of the community and the county.

“How we have strategically placed ourselves in Lafayette County has changed in the last few years.” Kuepers continued, stating that they have become a healthcare organization between the hospital, primary care clinics, nursing home and health department.

Their vision of healthcare in Lafayette County is to continue to maintain and challenge themselves to improve healthcare for all residents of Lafayette County and the surrounding areas. They want to have a healthy community and grow that. The hospital has been adding additional providers to the clinics and additional specialists to the hospital.

Both facilities have had a great economic impact on the county. In 2018, the two facilities paid $9.1 million in salaries to the employees (Manor was $2.5 million and the Hospital was $6.6 million). MHLC has a direct impact on the local economy of $18,500,541, according to a study done by the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative. The indirect impact is $6,641,694, totaling a revenue impact of $25,142,235 annually. Next years budget for the hospital is expected to be around $22 million with the clinics.

The hospital is the only county owned hospital in the state. That makes them a unique entity. Being built in the 1950s, the hospital was built for the needs at the time and the needs at that time were more inpatient care. The needs during 2019 are more outpatient driven. It is not in a position to do outpatient services efficiently. One of the areas in the hospital that is growing is the operating room department. The hospital only has one OR. The hospital is continually recruiting more surgeons but there are only so many hours in the day to do surgery and they are fighting for time.

“As MHLC grows we are maximizing our use of our one operating room, however we are very close to maximum capacity or we are probably at capacity now. We have surgeons and we have patients but we are short on space. We are at capacity and we can’t grow until something changes in these four walls,” Kuepers stated.

If the hospital would add on another OR and run it at half capacity, it would generate another $5 million in charges.

COO Molly Wiegel added that, “We are not saying that if we build it they will come. We have the patients. We have the providers. We are struggling to schedule everyone that wants to be here to be here. It is a great problem to have but it is time to solve that problem.”

Keeping the facilities up to code has been challenging. Both buildings were built to meet the needs at the time. The Manor was built in the 1960s and has gone from residents who were ambulatory and able to take care of themselves to a high medical acuity residency that has increased care for residents between the three floors and increased staff time, all dealing with the extremely small rooms and living space for those residents.

“Our rooms are very tiny and many of them have two beds in a room and the facility is not adequate,” Rolli informed the board.

The facilities both had state surveys on their mechanical and electrical systems. The hospital also did a structural survey. Both sites had minor citations but it was mentioned during the hospital survey that the building has reached end of life and there were questions around what their intentions were with where they could provide care in the future.

Their timeline expectation for the next five years would be during year one, securing a location and financial options; year two would be to secure that financing, bid out and start architecture work; year three would be to finish architecture work and bid out construction; and years four and five would be to complete construction and the project.

“It is an aggressive plan. We are at a standstill in growing healthcare within the hospital structure until we start doing something to the building. We are land locked. We have no space,” Kuepers said.

 Rolli stated that the Manor struggles to keep up to code each year and they keep increasing state and federal recommendations. The assessment on the Manor concluded that many of their systems are functioning beyond their normal expected life and are at risk. Two air-handling units, the air cooler chiller, kitchen/laundry air handing system, and the humidification system were all graded as end of life.  A budget suggestion of $1.5 million was included from the consultant.

MHLC’s assessment conclusion stated they have several systems that are at risk and it was suggested to budget $4 million in repairs with a grading system showing the HVAC system is at end of life. The MHLC’s structural assessment conclusion stated, “In comparison between utilizing the existing structure and building a new facility, we (Ericksoen Roed & Associates) believe the existing structure will not be versatile or cost effective for future considerations.”

Kuepers stated that the administration would be heavily researching into funding in the first year, looking into grants related to building green for nonprofits, but they would still need to find a significant funding source.

“We know that funding source, if we decide to move forward, is going to be something that will be pivotal in our decisions,” Kuepers said.

Kuepers believes that in moving forward, the Hospital and the Manor need to be in the same vicinity. Both facilities could potentially share even more services such as pharmacy, as they already share maintenance and laundry.

“Healthcare is a strong, stable, growing industry, that creates community wellness while generating an economic driver in Lafayette County. How do you want to move healthcare forward in Lafayette County?” Kuepers addressed the committees.

Committee members expressed their support for both the Manor and the Hospital and their five-year plan.

A committee was created consisting of Jack Sauer, Dr. Matt Solverson, Bob Boyle, Larry Ludlum and Scott Pedley to delve more deeply into the future of the facilities and the five-year plan.

Scott Pedley commented, “It is important to grow the economy of the county. When I look at the administration capabilities in both facilities and the successes they are achieving in their administrative roles, I think that we would be remiss if we didn’t proceed to explore this. Both facilities need to be co-located at a campus within close proximity of one another. We should build for the future.”

Their next meeting will be Aug. 19 at 7 a.m. in the Hospital Conference room.