DARLINGTON – At the Joint Memorial Hospital of Lafayette County (MHLC)/Lafayette Manor meeting held Monday, Aug. 14 at 7:00 a.m., the committee voiced their unity and determination to move ahead with a new facility for both the hospital and manor.
The MHLC and the Lafayette Manor have engaged WIPFLi of Eau Claire to do analysis that will advise the county if the facilities should do a phased replacement or full replacement of the current facilities.
MHLC CEO Kathy Kuepers outlined a presentation by WIPFLi that she attended that spelled out key phases of a major construction project. The hospital is in phase one and two of the study – feasibility and planning.
Phase three is design, phase four is bid/construction and phase five is move in/start up.
Kuepers presented an impact statement on what the MHLC means, in job and revenue, for the county. Job Impact: direct jobs – 140, indirect or induced jobs – 41 for a total of 181 jobs. Revenue impact: direct impact - $15,098,287, indirect or induced impact - $5,420,285 for a total impact of $20,518,572 of economic activity produced by the county. The total income impact felt by Lafayette is $17,561,832 according to the report. The number are based on 2018 audited numbers and is from a Hospital Association.
Kuepers said, “As you can see we have a significant impact on Lafayette County
County Board chairman Jack Sauer said, “I would think these numbers would be higher.”
COO Molly Wiegel pointed out, “These numbers are from 2018, in 2019 we are experiencing a growth of 19% and in 2020 with the new jobs that are planned that will further impact the county.
Kuepers stated, “We feel that this committee, our leadership team, move forward with both of these projects.”
Kuepers then went through a handout prepared by WIPFLi, some major points include: healthcare is changing; service lines; new markets; affiliations and collaborations; recruiting.
County Board and committee member Scott Pedley observed, “This is missing in two spots. The fact of the matter is as far as the hospital goes – weren’t you told that you better plan for a new facility?”
Kuepers responded, “You’re absolutely right. They (state surveyors) say we need to look at a new facility to meet future engineering requirements; they were very clear on their message.”
Pedley countered, “The planners (WIPFLi) know this. Shouldn’t they include that as one of the platforms?”
The committee agreed.
Kuepers, speaking to team leadership, “This committee is the team leader of this effort. We need to be on the same page. It’s human nature to resist change. We are to be the advocates for this change and we need to be positive about the change. We need to work towards a buy-in from the whole community.”
Committee member Matt Solverson said, “I think we have a culture of change and a culture of objectivity, it’s probably the strength of our committee.”
Kuepers said, “We also need the buy-in of the community at large. We need to help the community understand why the change and as Mr. Pedley said, one the reasons is compliance. Do nothing is a choice, renovation is a choice and building new is a choice – those are our options. I hear people say they’re okay with change, but they want to know how it will affect them financially.”
Kuepers described ways of convincing the community that this change would be a good thing, mostly with positive thinking.
Sauer interjected, “In speaking with community members I’ve heard comments about the manor and hospital, but mostly about the Sheriff’s projects. Most people lean towards doing the most inexpensive option. I don’t know if they think that will be a permanent fix. When the board visited Grant County’s new Sheriff’s facility they told us they were looking 40 years into the future. Around here (Lafayette County) we’re lucky if we’re looking five years into the future. I can be guilty of looking for the least costly alternative myself. But that isn’t the long-term best alternative and will usually cost you more money in the long run, rather than doing it the right way.”
Kuepers said, “With these three really big projects looming in Lafayette County, hopefully that will be a stimulus for change too. We want to make this about everybody winning.”
Wiegel stated WIPFLi would be onsite next week, so at the December meeting we will hopefully have some data for this group.
Kuepers summed up, “We do need to do something, we have compliant issues. I feel the economic impact of not having health care in Lafayette County would create a void. Not only loss of jobs, loss of health care here, but people will not move to the area and maybe be encouraged to leave the area. People want to come to a community where there is good health care, good school systems and a safe community.”
Manor Administrator Peggy Rolli read an impact statement on what the Lafayette Manor means, in job and revenue, for the county. Job Impact: direct jobs – 90, indirect or induced jobs – 26 for a total of 116 jobs. Revenue impact: direct impact - $4,998,215, indirect or induced impact - $1,794,574 for a total impact of $6,792,574 of economic activity produced by the county. The total income impact felt by Lafayette is $4,592,591 according to the report. The number are based on 2018 audited numbers.
Another WIPFLi report on Lafayette Manor admission data showed 56% of the residents come from Darlington, 8.5% from Gratiot, 7.0% from Shullsburg, 5.4% from Mineral Point, 5.4% from South Wayne, 3.9% from Argyle, 2.3% from Blanchardville and 0.0% from Belmont and other account for 11.7%.