The purchase of the hospital operation by Kansas City-based HMC/CAH Consolidated Inc. is now official, according to Mike Ryan, who will continue as administrator and chief executive officer of the local hospital.
The separation process has been hectic at times.
“Probably in the last two or three days I’ve hand-carried probably a dozen different documents and contracts and agreements—getting signatures from board members and that sort of thing,” Ryan said Friday.
“(The purchase) is complete today,” he added. “The buyer has transferred the funds to the state of Kansas today to pay off the bonded indebtedness and all those sorts of things.”
The indebtedness refers to the bonds held by the city of Hillsboro through its Public Building Commission, which owns the facilities used by both entities.
New identities and names
With the separation, the hospital has been renamed Hillsboro Community Hospital, while the long-term care unit has officially resurrected its former name, Salem Home.
The former HCMC Board of Directors now oversees the operation of Salem Home exclusively, but will continue to serve in an advisory capacity with Hillsboro Community Hospital.
“Those (advisory) meetings probably won’t be as frequent, but they’ll be very necessary because it’s a primary way for me to get feedback from the community about what the community needs are,” Ryan said.
“There will definitely be conversations about new services, new programs, new physicians—or whatever,” he added.
Wendell Dirks, chairman of the refocused Salem Home Board of Directors, said the operation of the elder-care facility will continue with enthusiasm.
“This board (membership) in particular has put a lot more emphasis and interest into the long-term care unit than anybody that I’ve served with there in the past,” he said.
“Actually, we’re very excited about taking that long-term care unit to a new level,” Dirks added. “I think there’s a lot of optimism and a lot of excitement there. I would expect (board members) to be tickled silly to be on the board.”
One of the first objectives during the transition process was to find an administrator for Salem Home. Kelly Schlehuber began working in that capacity Aug. 1. (See story on page 6.)
“We’re extremely happy to have her in that position,” Ryan said.
“This is a huge positive for them,” he added. “I have been in charge of both (operations), but by its very nature, it’s had my split attention. (The home) will benefit greatly, as will the hospital, to have one individual totally focused on one operation.”
Reassigning internal services
Establishing separate administrators has been only the first “internal organ” adjustment for an institution that shared most of its behind-the-scenes services over the years.
One of Schlehuber’s first tasks has been to hire financial and business office staff and to establish office space within the long-term-care area for those employees as well as for herself.
“All of these activities, and those expenses, were budgeted into the operation and we know (the home) would be able to support itself with those kinds of expenses,” Ryan said. “We’re not concerned about that side of it.”
The separation has also meant the reassignment of other support services such as dietary, laundry, housekeeping and maintenance.
“Those are now departments of Salem Home because that’s where the majority of their work is,” Ryan said.
The hospital now will purchase those services from Salem Home as needed.
“For instance, in dietary we’ll purchase meals from long-term care on a per-meal cost basis,” Ryan said. “For maintenance services, we’ll have to keep track of the time. They’ll bill us for so many hours of maintenance work and we’ll write them a check.”
Reassigning those services seemed to be a better idea than co-managing them, he added.
“We don’t think it will be very effective to share, because basically those people have to report to one individual at the department-head level,” Ryan said. “It wouldn’t really work to have that department head reporting over here and over there.”
Nursing services, meanwhile, have essentially been separate for some time already, so there will be little noticeable change.
“I do strongly encourage staff to continue to volunteer and go over to long-term care and to help out when they need help on whatever,” Ryan said.
“I still plan to go over there and talk to the residents on occasion. We want to maintain some interaction between the two groups.”
New facility coming
Sharing internal services likely will end when Hillsboro Community Hospital moves into a new state-of-the-art, 15-bed facility at the corner of U.S. Highway 56 and Industrial Road.
The timeline for the new facility was announced in late June as “three to five years,” but groundbreaking likely will occur later this fall, according to Ryan.
“We’ve seen some drafts for some plans of what the new hospital will look like,” he said. “We’ve already been through three or four drafts of that. Architects will be coming here to sit down with department heads and try to get input from them.
“We probably won’t be able to give everybody everything they want, but you have to allow them to have a voice in it.”
HMC/CAH currently owns three hospitals in Kansas: Horton, Oswego and now Hillsboro. Ryan said he’s received phone contacts from hospital administrators in other communities, as well as the Kansas Hospital Association.
“They want to keep an eye on this and see if this is for real, how it’s going to work and whether it’s a good thing for the community,” Ryan said. “I think you will see other communities taking a good look at this.”
Ryan said his experience with the new owners has been good, and he sees “nothing but positives” about the transition for the Hillsboro area.
“I continue to be as positive about it as I was from the beginning,” he said.
“Nobody can know for sure what will happen five or 10 years from now,” he added. “But if we have a brand new hospital setting out on the corner, what can be bad? I just don’t see any down side to doing this.”