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Joint MHLC/Manor moves forward with WHIPFLi analysis

DARLINGTON – At the Joint Memorial Hospital of Lafayette County(MHLC)/Lafayette Manor meeting held Monday, Aug. 19 at 7:00 a.m., the committee approved moving ahead with analysis provided by WIPFLi of Eau Claire at a cost of $21,000 and $23,000 respectively. The end goal of the project is renovation, phased replace or full replacement of both the MHLC and Manor facilities.


On the hospital side the next step is marketing analysis looking at: geographical source of patients; population trends by area and age; market share trends by geography and service line; utilization rate analysis, comparison and benchmarking; historical volume trends; competitor analysis and projected service volumes.

MHLC CEO Kathy Kuepers said, “In working with our consulting firm WIPFLi, they are helping this committee develop alternative scenarios for the long term regeneration of the MHLC campus and the Manor.”

Kuepers continued, “To do this we will use a logical phased approach. The next step is the market analysis, which is really key to what we do next.”

County Board member Scott Pedley asked, “In satisfying the public’s need-to-know why we are looking at the exploration of this? I believe at our last meeting the state survey reported that the hospital building has reached  end-of-life. Can you characterize the seriousness in which the surveyor put that? I’d like there to be no doubt that the reason we are looking at this: is either to explore or the hospital wouldn’t exist anymore.”

Kuepers: “We had out state survey here in Spring with three engineers. They expressed how well the building is maintained, but said the structure is reaching it’s end-of-life. They asked what our future plans are and what we will be doing with our future structure. They were pretty clear on that. They stated a facility this size, that is housing patients and doing patient care that is not safe for it’s patients, may not pass the next survey. They told us we needed to have a plan.”

Committee member Bob Boyle asked, “Are we grandfathered in some areas?”

Kueprs: “There is some grandfathering in certain areas, but once you touch those areas, those areas are no longer grandfathered.

A motion was made and seconded that the committee move ahead with the market analysis from WIPFLi at $21,000. Approved. The funds were budgeted for.

Committee member Larry Ludlum asked what is the projection for this to be completed. Kuepers stated WIPFLi  projected it would be done in three to four months, but she was putting it at six months.

Kuepers again stated, “The driving force is we need to provide a safe structure for our patients and our team. That is what we are looking for.”

Committee chair Jack Sauer asked if there was any feedback from the public.

Ludlum said he heard from several senior citizens that expressed they were glad the county was doing something.

Boyle added in his travels it has been mostly positive. He has heard questions about where, demographically, the county will be in 25 years and can we compete with near-by competitors.

Pedley stated, “I had a person grumbling about the exploring of a proposal for the hospital. I diffused the situation by asking him ‘Are we as a county stronger if the hospital goes away?’ He had no response. Our hospital and manor are assets to every taxpayer and resident in the county, whether the citizens use it or not. These two facilities generate great jobs for our people and others. Lately the hospital is a profit center. I think we should make a commitment for county government be involved in our local healthcare and senior healthcare.”

COO Molly Wiegel pointed out, “We have really good people to care for your families, our buildings are getting older, but we provide good care.”

Kuepers said, “What we would like the Lafayette County residents to know is that we are doing this very strategically and purposely and drawing the information out to make these critical decisions. This is not something we take lightly.”

Lafayette Manor

Manor Administrator Peggy Rolli outlined the next step for the Lafayette Manor, also with assistance from WIPFLi, was market analysis and bed need, along with facility evaluation and sizing.

Lafayette Manor Finance Manager Christine Tabaka pointed out that the bed need and market analysis would flow right into facility evaluation and sizing, so the committee might consider approving both steps together.

Pedley stated, “The reason I feel strongly about proceeding with this is there has been a study that suggests that the Manor spend upwards of $2 million on the HVAC system at the existing Manor. I don’t think it makes a lot of sense to put that much money into an old building.”

It was mentioned that there has been no action approving that project.

A motion was made seconded to expend the $18,000 for bed need and market analysis and $5,000 for facility evaluation for a total of $23,000. Approved. The funds will come out of unbudgeted revenue.

Sauer said, “At some point in time, there’s no free lunch and you have to upgrade facilities to keep things going the way generations did before.

Both items will be brought before their individual committees.