County Commissioners, unsure of what's in store for the County
Continue to call for meeting with hospital board
(Wednesday - November 10, 2021) - For nearly 70 years, residents of
Dickinson County and the surrounding area have been served by a county
hospital, Dickinson County Memorial.
During the latter months of 2018, strapped with mounting debt and declining revenues, the Board of Trustees of the hospital made two attempts to sell the facility. Both deals fell through.
Once again the future of the hospital is in doubt, as hospital officials have made only very sketchy information available, as too what type of deal is being negotiated with the Marshfield Clinic, and how it will affect the hospital's future. (www.dickinsoncounty.news/101221_dchs_marshfield.htm)
While the hospital would appear to have made a remarkable recovery from the day's when officials worried about meeting payroll, recent developments put that recovery under the magnifying glass. One hospital official, who asked to remain anonymous, said that while the hospital is showing good numbers, with a respectable amount of cash on hand, that is in large part due to the massive amounts of money handed out during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Is the hospital again "for sale"
This brings us back to the story captioned above, the DCHS partnership with the Marshfield Clinic.
At the Monday meeting of the Dickinson County Board of Commissioners, Commissioner Joe Stevens (R-Dist 1) stressed the need for a meeting between the County Board of Commissioners and the hospital's Board of Trustees.
At this point, it appears that County officials, including Stevens, who is the County's liaison to the hospital board, have no more knowledge than the general public. The only information made available to the County Board has been through general news releases from the hospital.
Commissioners want to know more.
Among the questions being asked:
With the deeding of the hospital property from Dickinson County to DCHS, in order to facilitate the USDA loan that the hospital recently received; does the County Board have any type of control or influence over the future of the property?
Can the hospital board approve an outright sale of the facility (no announcement has been made regarding sale of the facility) without consulting with the County Board of Commissioners.
While the hospital news release calls the transaction currently being negotiated a "Partnership," the matter of Marshfield Clinic building a proposed cancer center raises serious questions about the future of the property, namely: Would the Marshfield Clinic build a multi-million dollar facility on property which it does not own? If the clinic were to be built off-campus, would this not simply provide more competition for DCHS?
The question has also been raised, as to whether the County Board of Commissioners could, if conditions merited such action, revoke the Public Act 230 status of the hospital, returning it to County Control?
If the hospital is as financially sound as the public statements have indicated, why would there even be any discussion regarding the possible sale of the facility?
These are the types of questions plaguing the County Commissioners.
Areas of concern for County Commissioners:
(1) The hospital administration has made only a single terse, ambiguous statement regarding the proposed upcoming transaction.
(2) The hospital's Board of Trustees will not be holding another meeting until December. That meeting will come shortly before the deal with the Marshfield Clinic is set to be finalized, leaving little time for the County Board to initiate any type of actions.
(3) Thus far the hospital board has not indicated any real desire to meet with County Commissioners, though negotiations are underway in an attempt to set up such a meeting.
The hospital has come a long way since the dark days of 2018. If any controversy, cynicism or concern exists, it has a been exacerbated by the lack of information being provided by the hospital board.