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Council learns of HAMC’s financial picture

March 9, 2018
Bryce Berginski - Tribune Reporter , Pierce County Tribune

During a regular meeting Monday evening, the Rugby City Council heard a presentation regarding the local hospital's financial status.

Heart of America Medical Center CEO Patrick Branco said in a presentation that since Dec. 1, 2017, the hospital has been undergoing a "painful struggle."

One of those struggles was an $800,000 cash hit from Medicare at the end of October 2017. Branco said that the way the hospital had been documenting care in 2016 was considered appropriate that year, but the next year it wasn't.

"[It] did come as a total surprise to us," Branco said.

Branco said from Dec. 1, 2017 to today, the hospital has cut expenses where it could, and an estimated 50 positions have been cut due to layoffs, terminations and resignations.

Branco also denied rumors of the hospital being purchased by Sanford Health.

Ward 4 Councilwoman Sue Steinke questioned Branco on the move to open Kids Next Door the hospital's on-site daycare center to the public. Steinke asked what the outlook is on the daycare center and whether hospital employees would pay at the same rate as non-employee clients. On the first question, Branco said the hospital looks "day-to-day" at the daycare and opening it up keeps it full. On the second question Branco said employees would receive discounted rates.

Other actions

- The council discussed the raw water line replacement and water plant improvement projects in a conference call with Wade Senger, of Interstate Engineering.

- The council approved Ordinance No. 410, which makes purchases of and contracts for supplies and services with costs exceeding $150,000 to be subject to competitive bids; purchases more than $500 but not exceeding $2,500 can be done by department heads making requests through committee chairs who can approve or deny; purchases more than $2,500 but not more than $150,000 must require council approval; and makes purchases over $500 part of the city's fixed asset records.

- The council approved a call for gravel bids.

- The council approved Job Development Authority board minutes and board membership, but tabled approval of financials.

- The council approved a raffle permit request for Pierce County Relay for Life.

- The council approved National School Breakfast Week (which ended Friday) and City Government Week (which takes place April 2-6) proclamations.

- The council approved February meeting minutes, bills, financial statements, and the Municipal Judge's report.



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