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Casey hospital prepares for changeover

August 13, 2003|BRENDA S. EDWARDS

LIBERTY - Preparations for the change in management of the Casey County War Memorial Hospital began Tuesday night.

Westlake Regional Hospital in Columbia is giving up its lease agreement Sept. 15 and turning the operations back to the local hospital board.

Administrator Rusty Tungate said there will be little change in the operation because Westlake will continue to share department heads and medical staff with the Casey facility. Westlake has signed a management agreement with the Casey hospital

Westlake hospital has leased the Casey facility for seven years.

The Casey hospital has $1,729,000 to begin operations and is debt-free with the exception of the $629,000 it owes on bonds used to renovate the hospital more than 20 years ago. The bonds are paid by local property taxes.

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"That's a good way to start," said Tungate, who will continue to help out as administrator as he has for the past several years.

The department heads will run both hospitals on the same schedule.

He said Westlake department heads will spend two or three days a week at the Casey hospital and attend local hospital board meetings.

The Westlake staff will have offices in the newly purchased house near the hospital. Tungate said the house will have to be renovated and new computer lines will be installed before the staff moves in. Funds from Medicare reimbursement will be used for the renovation.

"This will free up space at the hospital for more private patient rooms," he said.

Before the change takes place, paperwork concerning Medicaid and Medicare will have to be completed, and malpractice insurance purchased for the hospital, clinic and board members. The board authorized Tungate to open bank accounts for checking, payroll and accounts for the clinic, and to get new checks printed.

Tungate also is trying to get new or used CAT scan equipment for the Casey hospital. He said the old one needs to be replaced.

He said that because the hospitals are within a 35-minute drive of each other, sharing the medical staff during emergencies will not be difficult. "We have enough staff to draw from if a doctor should have to have time off."

Two physicians and two nurse practitioners work at Casey hospital. Nurse Practitioner Tammy Hill has filled the vacancy created by Karen Likens, who was called to active duty with the Air Force Reserves.

Tungate said the board meets again Sept. 9 and everything should be in place for the change in operations.

"We expect this to be a smooth changeover," said Tungate. "The only difference is that Casey County Hospital will be in charge."

"The (Casey) board members are pleased with the plan and should be proud of themselves," he said.

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