Plans are afoot to build a new Oblong rural health clinic.
Last year, the Crawford Memorial Hospital Board discussed replacing the current Oblong facility with a larger one. On Wednesday, board members voted to move to the next step in the process: preparing plans and specifications for bid packets. Preparing the packets is not to exceed $125,000.
The new clinic, expected to cost between $1 million and $1.5 million, will be built on a five-acre lot west of the Oblong Dollar General on Illinois Route 33. It will have room for three clinicians to treat patients, a 24-space parking lot and a canopy over the entrance to shield patients from inclement weather.
CMH Chief Executive Officer Don Annis said the new clinic will be "second to none" in the region. He added it will likely be a couple months before a contract is awarded to a contractor.
In other construction news, Building and Grounds Committee Chairman Bob Kirk told the board Wednesday progress is continuing on the new surgical clinic and operating rooms at CMH. Ceiling grids are up and the first layer of paint is on the walls. Interior doors are expected in next week and flooring should begin soon.
There has been one change in plans, though. CMH had intended to reuse the lights now in place in operating rooms two and three. However, because of new regulations, lights made with mercury are being phased out in favor of LED lighting. The change will add about $102,000 to the cost.
Change is also coming to how CMH and all American health care providers do record-keeping.
The U.S. is finally joining the rest of the world in adopting the 10th version of the "International Classification of Diseases." The change will "greatly expand how diseases are described" in records, Annis explained. The change means more work and, at least for the first couple years, CMH will likely need to boost its records staff by 40 percent to keep up.
The board authorized Chief Financial Officer Rick Carlson to enter into a contract with a consultant to help train staff members and prepare the hospital for the change, which must take place by October 2014. He was authorized to spend up to $140,000.
In another matter, the board approved an agreement with Ameren Electric Generating concerning the tax assessment of the Hutsonville power plant.
The power plant was shuttered Dec. 31, 2011. Because it is no longer in operations, its tax assessment should drop. Ameren has agreed to a incremental decrease of its assessment, dropping its tax bill by $40,000 a year to ease the transition for taxing bodies. Once the assessment hits its lowest amount, it will remain there until the plant is renovated for some new purpose.
In other business:
Carlson also told the board CMH is now tracking billing complaints. They are relatively few - in December there were 11 inquiries out of 3,956 visits to CMH clinics and 19 out of 4,247 visits to the hospital itself. So far, no patterns have emerged. The tracking will continue in an effort to improve service.
Safety Officer Jed Hoalt talked about increased security measures at the hospital. For example, a camera has been added in the emergency room waiting room to allow the ER nursing staff to monitor it.
Registered Nurse Carrie Lawhead told the board CMH's quality indicators averaged 98 percent in the third quarter of 2012. The goal had been 96 percent.