Veterans Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees votes to move forward with renovations of former Mayo Clinic building, VMH Medical Clinic-Waukon planned for Spring 2021 launch

The former Mayo Clinic building in Waukon. Standard photo by Joe Moses.

by Brianne Eilers

The Veterans Memorial Hospital (VMH) Board of Trustees met in December for it monthly meeting as well as its yearly joint meeting with the medical staff. The month of November ended on a positive financial note at Veterans Memorial Hospital, with a profit of $5,183. While it may not be a huge profit, VMH Administrator Michael Coyle pointed out that it is significantly better than the loss in November 2019 of $31,483 for the month.

Year-to-date, the hospital is showing a positive bottom line of $35,633. At this time in November 2019, VMH was looking at a loss of $427,730. “That’s a nice little turn around,” Coyle said, adding that the difference between where they were at, year-to-date, from November 2019 compared to November 2020, is a positive $463,363. Coyle also noted that they had budgeted a profit margin of $22,800 for the year and currently they are $12,833 positive to budget.

“All five of the months of this fiscal year have been positive,” he noted.

Coyle also stated that COVID numbers have impacted volumes at VMH. Comparing admissions from November 2019 to November 2020, Coyle noted that there have been 17 more admissions, or about a 20% increase. Looking at total days, last year there were 104 total patient days where this year they are at 166. Year-to-date at this time last year, VMH had 563 patient days and this year they are at 674.

Emergency Room (ER) visits continue to “hold strong”. Last year there were 247 ER visits and this year they are at 274. Coyle also pointed out that mammograms are up quite a bit from last year. He explained that last year they were at 130 mammograms and this year that number has increased to 239.

Therapy has also been a strong area. Physical therapy appointments are up by 50 over last year at 1,841. Occupational therapy also continues to grow. Coyle stated that this is because they have “had more opportunity to work with inpatients.” Last year they had 189 units and this year they are at 276.

“That’s a direct relation to the age of our population for inpatients,” he noted. “We have an older population. COVID has really hit our older population hard.”

In other areas, deliveries are down slightly. Inpatient elective surgeries continue to be limited, but Coyle noted that all other service lines at the hospital are open.

In other matters, the board voted to move forward with renovations on the former Mayo Clinic building. VMH will be partnering with Brickle Brothers of La Crosse, WI on the project, and Coyle said they were hoping to begin the project January 4, or sooner, with the goal of being done in early spring. The clinic is projected to launch in early spring 2021 as well.

Coyle noted that the project will cost approximately $500,000 and the clinic will be called VMH Medical Clinic-Waukon. Coyle further explained that Dr. Dave Schwartz will be in the clinic, as well as nurse practitioners. He said they are in the process of hiring right now to staff the clinic. Coyle also noted that hospital leaders held off on the community giving campaign until they had decided on the clinic, but if anyone is interested in donating to the clinic, they can contact Erin Berns at the hospital, with any donated money being used for the renovation project.

The hospital will release its strategic plan in January 2021. Coyle explained that the main pillars of the plan include primary care development, community outreach and specialty provider growth.

COVID vaccination shots for VMH staff have begun. Coyle said that they don’t know when it will be available to the public as of yet. “Public health will release dates for the general public,” he said, adding that people can check on the Veterans Memorial Hospital website or with Allamakee County Public Health services.

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