Hospital committee takes shape

By BOB JOHNSON
Register City Editor

Allen County commissioners will select members of a Hospital Facility Committee when they meet Tuesday morning. In their end-of-year meeting Thursday, commissioners announced that 20 people had expressed interest and they would pick nine. Appointments will be made to have broad representation of the county.
The committee and a hired consultant will help commissioners decide whether to remodel and expand Allen County Hospital or build a new hospital.
The consultant, to be hired within a month, will examine finances, the hospital’s structural viability and its ability to meet local medical needs.
Commissioners said in mid-December they anticipated a public vote on financing in August for whatever upgrade they dedcided.
ACH, which opened in 1952, is managed by Health Corporation of America (HCA) under a lease that contains provision for termination with 180 days’ notice and buyout based on current value of the hospital.

ALLEN COUNTY ambulances made 1,020 runs during 2009, 115 more than the year before.
Jason Nelson, director of Emergency Medical Services, told commissioners billings from those runs, save a handful yet to be sent from the most recent runs, totaled $788,063.29. Of that, 54.24 percent, or $427,475.47, has been collected; 24.11 percent, $170,622.81, was written off, primarily for Medicare and Medicaid cases.
Terry Call, Nelson’s assistant, said $497,510.49 actually was collected during 2009, which included money from previous years’ billings. He noted one collection, forwarded to Iola because it was incurred by use of an Iola-based ambulance, was from 2004.
“You don’t get all the money you bill right away,” he said.

COMMISSIONERS made several appointments, reviewed financial records for the year — the county, as it is legally responsible to do, closed out 2009 solvent — and accepted a bid from Chuck Apt, Iola attorney, for guardian ad litem services. Apt’s bid, one of three, was $3,500 a month to look after interests of children in District Court. He has had the role for several years.