November 25, 2014

Healthcare system looking forward to growth

By Amy Robinson
Farmer Staff Writer

This past year’s accomplishments and the optimistic future of the McKenzie County Healthcare Systems (MCHS) were the highlights of this year’s 2014 Report to the Community luncheon and meeting that took place Friday, Nov. 21.
“Writing this report reminds us of the sense of gratitude and satisfaction we have for the accomplishments of the dedicated people who make the McKenzie County Healthcare Systems such a valuable resource to our county,” said Dan Kelly, MCHS chief executive officer and Patsy Levang, MCHS Board chairman. “We exist to serve you.”  
Several key accomplishments were noted over the past fiscal year, as well as discussion of what the new replacement facility means to the community as well as the expanded services that will compliment it.
“I think that the healthcare system is making McKenzie County a great place to call home,” said Kelly.
One accomplishment over the past year included the hiring of several new healthcare professionals, including new Chief Operating Officer Michael Curtis.  
 Another step forward for MCHS was the establishment of a seven-day Urgent Care service. With the success and expansion of the Urgent Care, two new healthcare providers joined the team, including Jodi Moore, a Physician’s Assistant and Jess Heggen, a Family Nurse Practitioner.  
 MCHS also received the largest USDA loan in the country, to date, along with a loan from the Bank of North Dakota for helping in the financing of the new replacement facility - showing both their belief and commitment to McKenzie County and the progressive healthcare needs for the ever-growing community.
Another significant achievement for MCHS was the partnership with Sanford Health and their $1 million commitment for the new replacement facility. This partnership has allowed MCHS to maintain its independence and to remain a locally owned and controlled healthcare system, while accessing the expertise and resources of a healthcare ‘giant.’
 New construction on a 24-unit employee apartment building just recently began. Footings have been poured and plumbing has been installed. According to MCHS officials, the ability to provide affordable housing for the employees of MCHS is crucial in not only the recruitment, but the retaining of these new and current employees.
“Just this morning, I took a picture of the new construction on the employee apartment building,” said Kelly. “And walls are getting up. So far, we’ve been blessed with decent weather, which has made this possible. We’re very hopeful.”
 There was also an agreement made to purchase the former Wiggles and Giggles daycare site to renovate into five additional employee apartments with an 18-child daycare for healthcare system employees.
 The official ‘kick-off’ of the Benefit Fund campaign took place this past fiscal year with the goal of construction beginning in the Spring of 2015, for the new replacement facility. This was one of the biggest accomplishments made over the past fiscal year for MCHS. With the new replacement facility, expanded services will finally be available, allowing McKenzie County to have first-rate  healthcare. Some of the expanded services will include obstetrics, general surgery, and orthopedic surgery.
With the influx of people into the area, the emergency room has averaged 570 visits per month, over the last several months, as compared to 96 visits a month in 2005. That is a 600 percent increase in volume in just  nine years. With a much larger population, different types of services are needed. Not only has McKenzie County had to adapt, they’ve had to make plans to completely transform, which brings the need for the new replacement facility.  
“The tradition of giving passed down through generations is what has helped the residents of McKenzie County keep their community vital and on pace with a changing future,” quoted an anonymous Watford City author, summarizing the unity and open-mindedness of this community and its progression, especially in the healthcare field.
Kelly and other healthcare officials are urging the community to come to the next MCHS Benefit Fund reception on Dec. 15, to see the architect unveil even more details of the new replacement facility.
“You will get to ‘walk the halls’ of the new facility,” said Levang, referring to a virtual tour that will be shared at the reception on Dec. 15.
Levang also urged community members to ‘hang in there’ because MCHS is getting very close to starting construction on the new facility. According to Levang, in April the dirt will start moving.
“We will have first-rate healthcare here in McKenzie County,” said Levang. “Just hang in there. I’m a firm believer in seeing something through to its completion.”
Currently, $8.6 million has been raised toward the $20 million goal for the new facility. And apart from the MCHS Benefit Fund for the new facility, the healthcare system has seen a significant increase in revenue.
The facility’s net revenue jumped from $13,659,073 in 2013 to $19,414,095 in 2014, whereas expenses for 2013 were $13,384,298 and increased to just $15,140,564 in 2014.
“In the overall scheme of things, we are profitable,” said Kelly.
Which is a positive change from the prior year and will hopefully, continue on with all the success MCHS has had over the past year.
“Thank you for your generosity and for your continued commitment to provide financial support and gifts of time and talent,” said MCHS healthcare officials. “Together we will build a long legacy of healthcare close to home for generations to follow.”