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Spencer Hospital Trustees Recap

Spencer, IA (KICD)–The Spencer Hospital Board of Trustees voted Thursday to approve a software and hardware upgrade to the hospital’s current MRI unit which will improve the operating system to allow better image quality, shorter exam times and new examination capabilities.

The MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) upgrade will cost approximately $122,000. The Spencer Regional Healthcare Foundation has pledged to help offset the costs by promoting this project in the Foundation’s annual appeal.

“One of the  key features of the MRI upgrade is that it will allow our Diagnostic Imaging team the ability to perform prostate MRI exams,” explained Steve Deutsch, Vice President of Operations Support. “The urologists on Spencer Hospital’s Medical Staff – Dr. Walt Mendenhall and Dr. David Christ – will be able to use MRI technology for diagnosis of prostate cancer and for follow-up exams post-treatment.”

The MRI unit upgrade, technologists’ training and the Foundation’s fund drive, will all take place later this fall.

In other meeting activity, Mark Gaworski, vice president of finance, reported that patient volumes continued to be lower-than-average during July, which represents the first month of the 2013-2014 fiscal year. Gaworski pointed out that through focused cost management, expenses were lower than budgeted which allowed the hospital to end the month with a positive bottom line, despite lower patient volumes.

Hospital president Bill Bumgarner advised the trustees that hospital service volumes have been softer since the beginning of 2013 and is consistent with trends occurring at hospitals across the country.  “Healthcare is changing and analysts predict this may be a permanent shift in healthcare utilization, not simply a short-term trend,” Bumgarner said. “For the past few years, Spencer Hospital has made incremental adjustments to prepare for the anticipated changes. When we have turnover, we carefully assess the need for positions. It’s important to take measured steps. There will be challenging times, but our team has a good understanding of the issues impacting healthcare and we’re all pulling the rope in the same direction.”

The board also heard an update on the proposed Mental Health Unit renovation. The project was budgeted at $611,000; however, bids came in approximately $300,000 over budget.  At hospital administration’s recommendation, the board voted to reject all bids.

The scope of the project will be altered to focus on safety recommendations the state recently requested of several  Iowa mental health units and to expand the medication room. When the project is rebid, the addition of a second security room will be bid as an alternate project. Deutsch explained the plan is to have new bids ready for board approval early fall and complete the project before the end of 2013.