Hospital Staff Underscores Need For Daycare

Several staff members attended the Republic County Hospital board meeting February 24 to encourage the board to move forward on a proposed child care center.

“We hear all the time about the struggles staff members have with child care,” said Audrey Carlson, Social Services director. Jillian Tuma, dietary director, said some staff members say they may delay having children because of a lack of openings in local day care. Kelly Devine, acute nursing director, and Jessica Melton, radiology director, said staff members want to know if and how quickly a project might happen.

Barry Bottger, chief financial officer, said availability of day care may become an important recruitment tool for staff, especially nursing, in the future. The hospital recently contracted with two agency nurses on a temporary basis to fill openings.

y basis to fill openings. Board members said they are awaiting firm costs on the proposal to renovate a building south of the hospital that has been used for storage into a day care licensed for 12 to 24 children. Annual operation costs for a day care are estimated at up to $185,000 a year for staff and expenses, Bottger said.

The service would be available to hospital employees only, which means Medicare would reimburse the hospital for about 60 percent of the cost, he said. The hospital board has made no decision on how staff members would be charged for child care if it becomes a reality.

In other updates: *David-Paul Cavazos, hospital administrator, said costs to purchase an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) will be higher than expected for newer technology with a longer warranty. The Great Plains Health Alliance, which leases the hospital, plans to purchase the machine, and the hospital trustees will pay for the necessary renovation of the radiology space from tax revenues, up to $500,000. Much of the renovation will be completed by hospital staff, said engineering director Troy Isaacson.

It was the consensus of the board that GPHA should proceed with the service, since it means patients will have full time access to MRIs, and not be limited to one day a week. The MRI is expected to pay for itself, said Cavazos.

  • Isaacson said work is expected to begin soon to replace the 60-year-old HVAC system in the original areas of the hospital. The HVAC contractor plans to have 15 to 20 people on site for the project, which should be completed this summer. The replacement is expected to have limited effect on hospital operations, he said, and some work may be done at night.
  • Cavazos introduced longtime rehabilitation department director Brent Martin as the new chief operating officer of the hospital. With the expected retirement of Diane Reed as director of nursing in May, her position will be replaced by the COO role, Cavazos said. Martin will oversee acute nursing, Intermediate Swing Bed, surgery, emergency, rehab, housekeeping and laundry departments. He will continue a limited role in some physical therapy services, he said.
  • Bottger said the hospital received a bequest of approximately $35,000 from the estate of Nadine Stutzman for hospital equipment. *The board reviewed policies and rental agreements for the Prairie Ridge Estates housing units. No pets are allowed in the apartments at the present time. The board asked staff to develop a draft for consideration that would set out the terms for a damage deposit if pets were allowed. There is currently one vacancy in the 10-unit complex.

In related news RCED is hosting workshop for Child Care Providers in April.