Hospital to sell Willow Ridge

Published 4:03 pm Friday, February 20, 2009

The Memorial Hospital and Manor Hospital Authority unanimously approved the sale of the Willow Ridge Assisted Living facility, according to Assistant Hospital Administrator Lee Harris.

After going into a closed session at their Feb. 17 meeting, the authority board members re-opened their meeting to vote of the sale of the facility, located at 801 Faceville Hwy. in Bainbridge.

The authority accepted an offer from Brookins Elderserve Inc. to purchase the facility for $1.65 million—with a stipulation that the sale net the hospital $1.6 million after closing costs and commission, said Harris.

Charles Tyson abstained from the vote to approve the sale due to a conflict of interest arising from his being a Realtor at DeHildren Realty, which represented Brookins Elderserve. Mark Harrell, who is the broker at DeHildren, said Mike Conder was the real estate agent in charge of the sale.

Brookins Elderserve owns St. Augustine Plantation—a nursing care facility in Tallahassee, Fla. Harris said the company had expressed verbal interest in purchasing or building a facility in Georgia in recent months and put forth a written offer for the purchase of Willow Ridge on Feb. 12.

Willow Ridge is a 22-bed assisted living facility that was built by the hospital in 1998. Harris said the faculty and in tern the 22 residents of the facility have been made aware of the sale.

Following the meeting, Board Chairman Joe Livingston and CEO Jim Peak both acknowledged that the discussion of the sale of the hospital property was in closed session; however, state open meetings law says that only discussion of future acquisition of real estate may be closed.

“We went into executive session to discuss it,” Peak said Thursday. “Let me apologize for that. … It was an honest mistake.”

Peak said Thursday evening that the contract for the sale was signed Thursday, and the parties have 45 days to close on the sale.

Showing a profit

Memorial Hospital Authority reported showing a profit for the second consecutive month, according to Chief Financial Officer Billy Walker.

In the Financial Committee meeting, Walker reported the hospital showed a net income of $17,169 for the month of January. The profit is a significant decrease from December 2008 when the hospital showed a profit of $692,642 mainly due to the hospital receiving $790,510 from the Indigent Care Trust.

The hospital is seeing the fiscal benefits of cost-cutting policies such as a hiring freeze that took effect in August of 2008, early retirement packages that have been taken by a number of employees and efforts to limit employee overtime.

Year to date, the hospital has decreased their number of full-time employee (FTE) hours by 53—although, Walker explained the number is formulated not by the number of physical employees, but by the FTE’s which are accumulated 40-hour work weeks. The hospital is still showing a year-to-date net income loss of $1,009,693.

Capital equipment updates and other business

Peak gave an update on the purchase of a new Nurse Call System—Rauland Responder IV purchased for $111,543.60—that was approved by the board in their January meeting. Peak said the system has been ordered and said the company is currently acquiring the necessary parts for the system.

“Installation is two to four weeks or four to six weeks depending on the availability of parts,” Peak said.

An update was given on the hospital’s work with Med Assets, which will handle a number of financial processes at the hospital and is anticipated to increase revenue acquisition by an estimated $4 million over the next five years.

Walker said they have been in contact with the company and are awaiting a list of data requirements. The first on-site visit is scheduled for Feb. 27, and progress has been satisfactory, according to Peak.

In other business, Peak and Walker made committee members aware of an offer from the Decatur County government to take part in a bond issuance to go ahead and receive a portion of Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax IV (SPLOST) funding at a 4 percent cost. Both said it was not beneficial for the hospital to take part.

“If it was something that we could do that would generate more money now then it would be worth doing,” said Peak. He explained that purchases currently planned to be made by the hospital would not generate revenue that would justify the 4 percent cost.

Peak also notified the board of two vehicles that were donated to the Manor, one by Dr. Philip Todaro and another from Mr. and Mrs. Reuben Reynolds.

Building and grounds

In the Hospital Authority meeting, the Buildings and Grounds Committee gave an update on renovations being made to the Manor’s residents’ rooms and the hospital, and gave recommendations for three equipment purchased for the hospital.

The committee reported renovations to the Hospital Manor II nurses’ station and resident whirlpool bath have been completed and room renovations are now currently underway. Renovations to the hospital have not yet begun.

The authority unanimously approved the purchase of three equipment replacement recommendations made by the committee. The items include a new laundry dryer, two new boiler room changeover valves and a new water heater.

The dryer, an IPSO 120-pound steam heater dryer, will replace a 29-year-old 100-pound dryer that is leaking due to coils that were reported to have become so thin they are beyond repair. The installation price in $8,915.

Two boiler room changeover valves will be replaced that are involved in alternating tempered water to chilled water. The new valves will be electronically operated and the expenditure for the replacement valves was not to exceed $6,000.

The third item was the purchase of a new steam-fired water heater that will replace a 12-year-old water heater that has developed an internal leak. The cost of the water heater is $16,924.