Posted 10/21/09 (Wed)
By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer
According to a master facility plan, in order to properly serve McKenzie County, the McKenzie County Healthcare Systems (MCHS) needs to build a 24-bed hospital and new rural health clinic which would both be attached to the current Good Shepherd Home.
In 2006, the City of Watford City through the Roughrider Fund provided the seed capital for the MCHS to undertake a study to determine space needs based on anticipated 2010 usage and to make suggestions of how best to address those needs.
“The healthcare system is very appreciative of the support received from the Roughrider Fund at that time, says Dan Kelly, MCHS Chief Executive Officer. “That study resulted in an excellent report reflecting that if the system is to meet the future healthcare needs of McKenzie County residents, the present space limitations and physical plant deficiencies must be addressed.”
The solution outlined in that plan was to build a new hospital and clinic attached to the present Good Shepherd Home. According to Kelly, costs for that plan were estimated at more than $26 million. Those costs did not include renovation of the Good Shepherd Home, which also needs to be addressed.
“As an administrator, with several capital project experiences, it is my concern that the healthcare system cannot service the debt of a $26 million project,” states Kelly. “Also, whatever route is taken to address our future needs, the use of that space has a direct impact on the reimbursement the healthcare system receives from Medicare and Medicaid. To that end, while the McKenzie County Healthcare Systems board and administration is aware and remains committed to examining realistic plans for the future, at present we need additional information.”
In an effort for the MCHS board and administration to make an informed decision, another study needs to be completed, and once again, thanks to the Roughrider Fund, the MCHS hopes that study will yield the answers they need.
The Watford City City Council approved a $25,000 Roughrider Fund grant to the MCHS to help fund a new facility study. This study would involve hiring a consultant to help determine what kind of new facility could be built while staying within the facility’s ability to service the debt.
“In addition to the funding from the Roughrider Fund, I will submit a grant to the Center for Rural Health requesting funding for a portion of the study,” adds Kelly. “The remaining balance of the study will be borne by the Benefit Fund of MCHS or the Healthcare System itself.”
According to Kelly, an expansion of the current MCHS is needed because space has run out for adding new product lines, and most of the facilities are old and in need of upgrades to the infrastructure.
“At this point, there are no plans for building,” says Kelly. “But in time, with the assistance of this study, we will be able to make an informed decision regarding our options.”