County ponders selling the hospital

Cathy Decker/Staff reporter
Mercer County Hospital is currently being managed by Genesis.

The Mercer County Board met Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010 and agreed to hold a public hearing Saturday, Nov. 20, at 1 p.m., about the affiliation agreement with Genesis Health System concerning operation of the Mercer County Hospital (MCH). The discussion will also include information on an option to transfer ownership of the hospital to Genesis.

Genesis is currently in its second year of managing the hospital. The hearing is tentatively set to take place at the VFW Hall in Aledo.

The board also took no action on getting an appraisal for the hospital property, with the cost estimated at between $25,000 to $50,000. An appraisal would take more than two months to complete and would analyze not only the bricks and mortar, but the furniture, fixtures and equipment and would look at the financial history and potential. The scope of the appraisal might also include examining the Mercer County Nursing Home and the county's Medical Associate's Clinic.

Ted Rogalski, administrator at MCH, told the board that Genesis already had reviewed the hospital's financials and was aware of the facts surrounding the physical plant.

Board member Dan Sedwick, chairman of the board's finance committee, asked whether the $2 million contributed by Genesis for renovations would be taken into consideration during this appraisal?

Don St. Germaine, county auditor said, "All that would be considered."

The board discussed the costs of this type of appraisal, wondering who would pay for it. District 1 Board member Bob Vickrey said, "If funds are an issue we could consider borrowing from a local (financial) institution." He considered the information gained by a survey would be "funds well spent."

Board member Terry Elliott asked, "Is Genesis interested in helping to pay for the survey?"

Rogalski answered, "Why spend an additional $50,000." He pointed to the fact that the building is 30 years old and Genesis had already defined the financials. "In my opinion it's already been done."

Rogalski told the board he met with a representative from the United States Department of Agriculture regarding a $12 million loan. "They want our audit financials," he said, which he called "the common metric out there."

He pointed to the county's lack of reinvestment in the hospital over the last 30 years as a factor being considered. "We'll have to do a revenue bond to support it (the loan)."

The Genesis management agreement with the Mercer County Governing Board expires in March. "Without the backing of Genesis within two years we'll be back where we were two years ago," said Board member Floyd Utz. He said the board was doing whatever it could do to keep the doors open.

The board will hold a special meeting after the public meeting to make decisions on the option to transfer the hospital to Genesis.