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A Tentative Plan

EMH Working Toward Groundbreaking

BY SARA KONRAD BARANOWSKI skonrad@iafalls.com
Copyright February 25, 2012 Times Citizen Communications

   Ellsworth Municipal Hospital employees are at work every day, trying to move closer to a groundbreaking for a new $30 million hospital.
   At a Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday, EMH CEO Cherelle Montanye said the tentative groundbreaking date moves every day, but right now it’s looking like a ceremony may be planned for sometime in June. Montanye said there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done before work can begin, but hospital officials are anxious to get started so they can have “steel in the ground” before next winter. “The risk of not being able to work through winter is $500,000 because of interest on the bonds,” said Chief Financial Officer Mike White.
   Because of that, the Board gave Montanye permission to begin spending money for the new project. She requested that the Board release $2.6 million, which will be used for, among other things, architect fees and preparation of bids.

A good month

   In other business at the Wednesday meeting, White reported that the hospital experienced a “very successful month” in January. In fact, the hospital finished the month about $150,000 above the $9,994 loss that had been budgeted for January. The hospital ended January with a profit of $143,918.
   “January and February usually have smaller patient volumes, but volumes in January were higher than December,” White said.
   Other factors that contributed to the positive bottom line were bad debt and charity care that White described as being “under control.”
   The better-than-projected month, as well as other positive months also led the Board to approve a revised budget for the current year. White said he based the budget on just six months of averages, but with another six months to use, he developed a new budget for the current year. Montanye said an accurate budget is necessary.
   “Budgeting becomes important to how we manage day to day operations,” she said. “Last year volumes tanked in the last three months of the year. I’d rather be conservative and ready for that than not.”

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