[Editor's Note: This is the seventh of a series of articles on the Grant County Commission work session on March 12, 2024. It continues the review of the March 14, 2024 regular meeting agenda.]

img 7703County Manager Charlene Webb presents a certificate of appreciation to the Maintenance Department.

img 7710County Manager Charlene Webb presents a certificate of appreciation to the IT Department members from left, Gabe Morales, Director Adam Baca, Webb, and Deputy Director Robert Hood.

Photos and article by Mary Alice Murphy

Grant County Manager Charlene Webb continued the March 12, 2024 work session review of the March 14, 2024 regular meeting agenda.

Commissioners would consider two proclamations - March as National Nutrition Month and April as Fair Housing Month.

District 3 Commissioner Alicia Edwards read, at the regular meeting, the proclamation for National Nutrition Month, which in the Whereases noted that "food is the substance by which life is sustained." The proclamation promotes good quality food, as well as continuing nutrition education to enhance healthy eating practices. It also notes that local food producers, ranchers, food hubs, farmers' markets and all distributors of food have a critical role in ensuring equitable access to nutritious foods because nutritious foods "determine the successful trajectory of a child's live from conception on;" the proclamation encourages "all citizens to join the campaign and become concerned about their nutrition and that of others."

Commissioners approved the proclamation, but no one was there to accept it.

The Fair Housing Month proclamation is an annual proclamation stating that "fair and equal housing is a right guaranteed to all Americans" and that people "must not be denied housing because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, handicap or family status." The proclamation highlighted the 55th anniversary of the Fair Housing Law, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968.

Commissioners approved the proclamation with no one present to accept it.

Webb presented two certificates of appreciation for "going above and beyond their normal scope of duties."

The first certificate of appreciation went to Jason Lockett, facilities and grounds supervisor, and the Maintenance Department for the new furniture installation to the County Manager's Office, Planning Department, IT, and the Conference Center. "They came in, moved people in and out with no complaints and always with a smile on their faces. It went as smoothly as possible."

The second certificate of appreciation went to Adam Baca, IT director and his two staff members, Gabe Morales, and Robert Hood for assisting with all the IT needs during installation of new furniture. "I don't think people realize when you uproot people from their offices, they have to keep operations going. It required moving IT equipment. We had people scattered all over this building, and there was never a minute of downtime. They kept us going with a smile, along with their everyday happenings, like outages at the Detention Center . I think everyone in the building realizes now how valuable our IT department is. We are so fortunate to have the crew we have."

Gila Regional Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Robert Whitaker presented the monthly GRMC update. "I concur on the IT Department. This is the second month I've brought the wrong adapter for my computer and theirs continues to work. I, too. am appreciative of them."

He began with the financial report, noting that he would present the January report, as the February report had not yet been approved by the Board of Trustees, which would meet the next week.

"For January, we saw 83 discharges and 227 surgeries," Whitaker said. "We had 16 deliveries, not a lot for the month, compared to 32 last year. We are trending this fiscal year pretty close to last fiscal year. ER visits were 1,364 and outpatient visits, 5.210. We are continuing to see an increase in outpatient visits, which will continue to see the increase as healthcare moves more and more to outpatient visits."

He noted that net operating revenue for January was $7.7 million as compared to prior year January at $6.55 million. Net operation expenses stood at $7.64 million compared to prior year's $6.61 million. The net operating income was $69,000 compared to last year's loss of $261,000. "That brings our net operating for the year to date at a loss of $316,000, compared to the prior year's loss of $1.7 million. Operating days cash is 144 days compared to the prior year's 105. He said the 144 is an all-in number, including liquid operating cash as well as reserves and investments. "For charity care, the hospital booked $60,000 for January and $560,000 fiscal year-to-date."

For capital expenditures, Whitaker said that in fiscal year 2023, the hospital spent $2.77 million in capital expenditures. For fiscal year 2024, the hospital has spent $2.85 million. Some of the $2.85 million had asterisks, which he noted are for equipment the Board of Trustees has recently approved so not included in the number, including OR (operating room) surgical towers, for cancer radiology quality control hardware/software for the linear accelerator, an OR instrument washer. "We do have several projects in progress, not included in the number—the labor and delivery renovations for $1.6 million on schedule for end of May. Also not included in the $2.85 million is the OR HVAC system at $1.4 million, because we're still struggling with the federal grant requirements and getting the contractor. I think we're getting closer. We also have the orthopedic clinic renovation, which has started at a cost of $125,000 scheduled to be finished late May or early June. We've squared away our grants with the Department of Finance and Administration to start our telemetry system at $1.2 million,. Again that number is not in our $2.85 million, as well as an about $450,000 new nurse call system and a new telephone system for $525,000."

He also mentioned the projects, services and events, which include a Community Health Needs Assessment for about six months, as well as the Community Benefit Report to be published within about 30 days. He expected to present the financial audit to the Board of Trustees at their meeting the next week. "We are also revamping our ER provider schedule to have better physician coverage and redoing our outpatient scheduling process. "I've worked with Commissioner (Eloy) Medina to increase the EMS service stationed in Bayard, which is part-time due to staffing issues. For our next round of a townhall and our employee forum, we're looking at the month of May. For the townhall, I want to discuss transfers and what that means to cover what is accurate and the myths out there."

Whitaker talked about Senate Bill 161, which offers $5.7 million to the hospital. "It is not a lump sum, but is spread out over two years. We have to make quarterly applications to show the need for the funding, then we get reimbursement. The Rural Health Care Delivery Fund passed in 2023 had $80 million allocated. Gila Regional had no projects that fit, but it came around again this year for $46 million and there are a few projects I expect to put in for, specifically for new and expanded services for rural health care. Thank you, Commissioner (and Chair Chris) Ponce, I have put in for federal congressional direct spending for certain projects."

For his final comments, he read from a letter similar to what he said he receives regularly from patients telling about positive things they experienced during a procedure at Gila Regional. This letter said the infusion department has always treated the patient with respect. Patient always received food and water and easy insertions of needles, and was always greeted with cheer and family was allowed to visit and never felt like they were in the way. "Infusion personnel offer the essence of professional, yet personable care. They are the front line personnel, and Gila Regional is very privileged to be represented by them."

Whitaker said he would like to conclude his report each month with something positive. We get these, as a letter or an email, every week. We always have room to improve, but there are a lot of things we do well, too."

The next article will begin with county reports at the regular meeting.

To read the previous articles, please visit https://www.grantcountybeat.com/news/news-articles/83233-grant-county-commission-holds-work-session-031224-part-1 ; https://www.grantcountybeat.com/news/news-articles/83277-grant-county-commission-holds-work-session-031224-part-2  ; https://www.grantcountybeat.com/news/news-articles/83348-grant-county-commission-holds-work-session-031224-part-3 ; https://www.grantcountybeat.com/news/news-articles/83364-grant-county-commission-holds-work-session-031224-part-4 ; https://www.grantcountybeat.com/news/news-articles/83386-grant-county-commission-holds-work-session-031224-part-5 ; and https://www.grantcountybeat.com/news/news-articles/83406-grant-county-commission-holds-work-session-031224-and-regular-meeting-031424-part-6 

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