April 17, 2024

Hospital board working on additional parking

Greater Regional Health is working on adding parking to Country Club Drive. The hospital is working with city officials about the addition.

Greater Regional Health board Monday approved a public hearing regarding the work needed for addtional parking along Country Club Drive.

Greater Regional Health Chief Financial Officer Matt McCutchan said the proposal has been approved by Creston City Council as both entities are finalizing details. The number of additional spaces is expected to be in the low 30s. The board will have a public hearing and review bids in April for related work.

“It will make a difference but will make minimal impact on regular flow of traffic,” McCutchan said about additional spaces.

The board approved to continue its tax asking, what it has used for the past 20 years, of $1.14 million for fiscal year 2025. The fiscal year begins July 1. That revenue is used for FICA at $414,597 and Iowa Public Employee Retirement System for $414,596. General fund and ambulance funds are each $160,015, both are the maximum tax asking by law.

Teresa Newman from UnityPoint Health provided the board information from the American Hospital Association about various issues in health care. She referred to rural emergency destination hospitals and how some facilities are transitioning to that. Rural emergency destinations are essentially emergency room providers. The strategy is a financial move to prevent closure. Greater Regional is not in a position to change its purpose.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds approved legislation last year to allow the rural hospitals to consider rural emergency destination.

The designation comes from a federal program, in which hospitals stop providing inpatient services but are able stay open for outpatient services and maintaining a 24/7 emergency room. Only hospitals with fewer than 50 beds are eligible for the program, and must meet other eligibility requirements.

Hospitals joining the program would receive more Medicare reimbursements as well as a monthly facility payment.

“This is part of our unwavering commitment to ensuring all Iowans, no matter where they live, receive the quality medical care they need and deserve,” Reynolds said in a statement.

The move to this new health care model comes as some Iowa hospitals struggle to keep their doors open. When Blessing Health Keokuk closed in October 2022, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley asked whether the REH program could help reestablish the hospital. Michigan-based Insight Institute acquired the Keokuk health care facility a year ago and announced it is considering the federal designation as it looks at the best ways to provide service in southeast Iowa.

Iowa Hospital Association President and CEO Chris Mitchell said last year the program could help save hospitals like Blessing Health Keokuk in the the future.

“In the last decade, more than 140 hospitals have closed in the United States. Most of those hospitals are in rural areas including one here in Iowa,” Mitchell said in a statement. “This bill provides a potential lifeline to our rural hospitals across the state, gives struggling hospitals another option to avoid closure and ensures that local access to care is maintained.”

Grassley also praised Reynolds and state lawmakers for passing the state licensing program into law.

“REH is the most significant reform to protect access to essential rural health care services in decades,” Grassley said in a statement. “I’m glad rural hospitals and communities in Iowa have one more option to sustain their operations and maintain health care access in the community.”

Greater Regional board member Dave Driskell was not in attendance.

Iowa Capital Dispatch contributed to this story.

John Van Nostrand

JOHN VAN NOSTRAND

An Iowa native, John's newspaper career has mostly been in small-town weeklies from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River. He first stint in Creston was from 2002 to 2005.