Dr. Steve Cole, chair of the Sevier County Hospital Board, reported at the Jan. 2 board meeting that the hospital is on track to open in the late summer of 2021.
“We’re working on things that don’t show yet,” he told the board.
He said that the board would be having to make some decisions soon as the architects were going to need to know what equipment was going to be in the facility and where, before they could finalize any plans.
At the meeting were members of the Arkansas Hospital Association (AHA), Tina Creel, president of AHA Services and vice president of Member Services at the Arkansas Hospital Association, and Lyndsay Dumas, vice-president of Education, who spoke about the many resources the group can provide to member hospitals. Also attending the meeting was Bill Birch of BXS Insurance, which works with hospitals in Arkansas.
Creel said that the organization has all but four hospitals in Arkansas as members.
“They’re here to give us information that puts us on a path where we can make the right decisions,” Cole told the board.
Services provided by AHA include educational programs, legislative initiatives, and safe workplace promotion. The group also assists in workplace recruiting and can connect hospitals with group purchasing organizations (GPO).
“My place is to be an advocate for the hospital,” Creel told the board.
Creel suggested the board meet with members of a GPO, Vizient specifically, which specializes in capital purchases, medical equipment planning, design, procurement and installation.
She said that when building a facility or if a hospital needed capital equipment, Vizient has all types of offerings they can provide for the hospital and that purchases could be made “Ala carte”.
“Whatever you need, they will help you with it.,” she said. “Vizient has many resources.”
Cole told the board that being a county-owned hospital, they had to follow the procurement laws of Arkansas.
“When you get over $20,000, that requires a three-way bid in Arkansas,” he told the board, noting that the procurement laws included leases, services or purchases. “With a GPO, they can help with the process.”
Cole said they need to start getting involved with a GPO because the architects have questions.
“Moving forward, you want to meet with the people from Vizient,” Creel said.
Creel said that if the board wanted to become a member of AHA, they needed to complete an application and that there are fees that are based on expenses, but that the hospital could join with a flat fee seeing as it has no expenses at the moment.
The board voted unanimously to join the group.
AHA Education Vice-president Lyndsay Dumas told the board that hospitals use her to find resources and that she can usually put them in touch with someone that can help them. Information, policy, cybersecurity measures, emergency preparedness were all areas she may be able to help with, she told the board.
Birch told the board that his group insures 32 hospitals and 2,500 physicians. He said they were the endorsed provider with AHA, He said that small or large, they have a certain protocol of coverage that needs to be in place to protect the hospital. He said that they also manage the claims and coordinate all the coverage.
“We have a dedicated health care unit,” he told the board.
on land use
After hearing the AHA pitches, Cole spoke about how he and others had toured the land where the hospital is to be built, 18.23 acres on Highway 71 North at Lee Lane. He said that the landowner wanted to clear cut the timber on the land prior to its sale but that board member Jonathan Hoyt suggested that they pay the money that would be made from the timber and design the hospital around the trees.
Let’s pay him as if he had clear cut it,” Cole said. “I’m not an expert, but just walking around those acres, I don’t believe it is a substantial amount of money.
Cole asked for a motion and a vote that he could take to the landowner and the board voted unanimously to approve making the offer.
Cole said it was a beautiful piece of land, replete with rolling hills, and felt that incorporating the natural landscape would bring calm to people visiting the facility.
“I picture people walking trails,” Cole said. “People that are in waiting rooms looking out the window and seeing woods and seeing deer — whatever they see,” he said.
Plan to meet with local medical providers
Cole then suggested that the board meet and get input from local medical providers and the public concerning the proposed floor plan of the hospital.
The board informally agreed to designate.a place and time to hold a luncheon for the area’s medical providers that would admit patients to the hospital. They also chose to get public input through local media channels.
“I want them bought in on this rather than rushing the process, board member Greg Revels said about the medical providers, noting that he felt it was important because they would be working in the hospital and that the board needed to assur them their input was valued by the board.
“It’s just a buy in thing,” he said. “We can take an extra week.”