Hospital board meets with supervisors to answer election questions

In preparation for the special election set for March 2, the Henry County Health Center CEO Robb Gardner and members of the HCHC board of trustees dedicated time to answer questions regarding the voting matter, the lease agreement between Great River Health and HCHC.

Tuesday afternoon, they spent time answering the Henry County Board of Supervisors’s questions about the lease agreement and how it would affect the tax payers of Henry County.

“Is there anything in the contract that allows inflationary for the $100,000 rent payments Great River will make?” Supervisor Greg Moeller asked.

“Yes, there is,” trustee Kent Severson said. “And if there is a shortfall in taxes at the end of the fiscal year, Great River will have to make up that difference, too.”

“From an operations standpoint, the $100,000 is the operational lease payment that will go to capital equipment purchases, so anything that has a value over $5,000,” HCHC CEO Robb Gardner said. “The HCHC (board of trustees) still owns the building, it’s still a county hospital, and that $100,000 will go to replacing the assets of the building.”

Gardner continued to say that Great River will assume all operational risks for the expenses of running the clinic; therefore, the costs will come out of Great River’s pocket, and outside of the HCHC board of trustees’ cap of $1.2 to $1.5 million, Great River is required to cover the shortfalls that Severson mentioned.

“All revenue from the health services and medical services will go to Great River, but all tax dollars of HCHC will stay in Henry County,” Gardner said. “The tax levies will stay as they are, and this ensures that people would still be employed and keep their IPERS.”

“It was a big emphasis for the HCHC (board of trustees) and Great River to have employees keep IPERS,” he said. “With this public-private partnership, it lowers the overall cost and makes the Health Center more financially stable.”

“As of right now, we are in a strong financial position, so we can tell Great River what we wanted instead of take what we were given,” trustee Joel Prottsman said.

“With this agreement, we’ll be more financially stable than if it passes than if it doesn’t,” Garner said.

The group assured the Board of Supervisors that the HCHC name would not change in the future, nor would its status as a critical access hospital.

“I don’t understand why people think we’d lose services from this partnership, because as a critical access hospital, we might see expansion in services because the reimbursement is lower,” Gardner said. “There’s also no expected changes to our health care providers, like the specialists. Maybe, with this partnership, we’ll see more specialists and partnerships with other facilities like U of I and Mercy.”

The HCHC board of trustees and CEO Garner concluded the question and answer session with answers regarding viewing the lease agreement itself instead of the summary available online.

“Since it is a legal contract between a public and private sector, it is currently a confidential document,” Gardner said. “That being said, if anyone would wish to sign a nondisclosure agreement and view it, please do. We haven’t had anyone take us up on this offer, but we’re still open to it if it’ll clear up some confusion.”