Another Garrard hospital unlikely

October 01, 2003|PHIL PENDLETON

LANCASTER - As the winding down of Garrard County Memorial Hospital continues, board Chairman Leonard Smith shed more doubt Tuesday in the community ever having an acute care facility again.

"Acute care is dead for Garrard County, that's what it comes down to," said Smith after board member Brenda Powers said she's been asked by people how the board is "coming along" in getting someone to provide acute care.

"The economics are not there," said Smith.

"Brenda, it doesn't matter what we think," Donna Powell chimed in. "The economics don't show it."

Powers said that she was hoping somebody would provide health care services at night after doctors' offices close, such as between 4 p.m. and 2 a.m. But Smith said the one organization that made an application for an urgent treatment license later withdrew it. Smith said he thinks the company lost interest once it learned of the hospital's economics.


Smith said the loss of hospital services has not resulted in any organized community presence making its opinions known. But Powers disagreed. "There's people in our community who want urgent care," she said.

Powers asked if there needs to be a meeting to discuss that further.

"They need to organize themselves," Smith replied.

What would urgent treatment provide?

Powell said misconceptions exist as to what exactly urgent treatment would provide. "With that type of care here, if someone comes in with an emergency, they still have to call 911 from the urgent care center. It's not to take care of emergencies," she said.

Powers said she's concerned about "children who cut their fingers at football games" or "get sick in the middle of the night." She said they now have to go to Danville or Stanford to get care.

"I'm going to say this," declared Smith. "When the community did not support this hospital when it was open ... It ain't gonna happen."

Smith said there is some interest in providing diagnostic or laboratory care in Garrard County, but he would not elaborate further. "I'm not prepared to reveal any names. There's no deal cooked up yet," he said.

Meantime, Smith said procedures continue to be followed in collecting money owed to the hospital and figuring out what do with hospital equipment and drugs. He said two collection agencies are interested in helping the hospital retrieve money owed from bills that are overdue and not overdue. "They can put more muscle into it," he said.

Michael Bouman, a retired pharmacist assigned by the Kentucky Board of Pharmacy, has been going through the drug supply in the pharmacy and discarding medicine that has been opened or has expired. Locks to the pharmacy were changed after the hospital's operations were suspended Aug. 29, and the new keys were taken to the Garrard County sheriff.

Powers expressed concern of word getting out through the newspapers of there being drugs in the building and that some people may try to break into it and get them.

"You've got a point," said Smith. Smith asked newsmedia present for Tuesday's meeting to use their judgment.

"The sheriff's department comes once an hour and checks the exterior of the building," said Chief Financial Officer Loretta Rinthen.

Drugs that can be sold will be put up for sale, Smith said. "We are optimistic we will get 75 to 80 percent of our cost," he said.

Some veterinarians are interested in some medical supplies, such as IV's and needles, Smith said.

Group exploring ways to use hospital space

With Care Centers Management Group taking over both the Long Term Care Facility and hospital building, the group is exploring ways to use the hospital space, specifically the "A" and "B" hallways.

Powers said Care Centers vice president and local interim administrator Gary Parker has suggested putting assisted living for low income folks in the "A" hall. Parker said assisted living could be offered there for about $1,100 a month, according to Powers.

On the "B" hall, two-room apartment assisted living units could be offered for about $2,200 a month. "For husband and wife. You know, they could have a living room and a bedroom," she said.

"Is there a need for that?" asked Smith.

"There's a big need," said Powers. "People of Garrard County would love to stay at home, rather than go out of the county when they get older. They want to stay here with the people they know and the churches they go to."

Powers and Powell said that those are just suggestions for the "A" and "B" halls.

Smith said one troublesome payroll item deals with employees' accrued annual leave. When the hospital shut down operations Aug. 29, several employees who lost their jobs still had vacation time. "We're gonna pay them when we get the money," said Smith, who said that the amount owed to employees is about $35,000.

Two appraisals have been ordered for the hospital, and Smith said he's asked administrative assistant Brunette Arnold to take pictures "of everything." Smith said that an agreement exists with Ephraim McDowell Health regarding the future of patients' medical records and that there will be a charge to have them purged. In the near future, people will be able to get a copy of their records. "There may be a charge," he said. "Usually it's free the first time; the next time, there is a charge."

Phil Pendleton can be reached at

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