NVH space allocation committee lays out changes

Some changes already implemented

TONASKET – The structure formerly known as North Valley Assisted Living did not sit unused for long, as some of the changes recommended by the NVH Space Allocation Committee have already been implemented.

Three members of the committee — Business Development Coordinator Terri Orford, Facilities Director Kelly Cariker and Chief Financial Officer Helen Verhasselt — reviewed the planned uses, current progress and financial effects of the new uses of the building after the assisted living facility was closed in March.

Orford outlined the uses of the newly-named Verbeck Building as follows:

2nd Floor North Wing

- Seven provider apartments for emergency room physicians, visiting surgeons, VA providers and the like.

“We’re able to do this immediately,” she said, noting that the change will result in an immediate savings of about $1,700 in apartment rentals and utilities.

- Computer training lab, necessary for educating hospital personnel on the new electronic records requirements.

- Communications closet for emergency communication equipment as part of the hospital’s disaster preparedness plan.

2nd Floor South Wing

- Seven more on-call staff apartments that can also be used for trainers and contractors. Orford said that in studying other regional hospitals, it was discovered that such facilities were considered standard. Staff will also furnish and do most of the apartment cleaning themselves, so there is no additional cost to the hospital on that front.

- The business office will be relocated here from the basement area. Orford said this was one move made in response to last year’s community survey, which cited poor public access as an issue.

- The library will be changed over to a meeting space, while committee member Karen Schimpf was also looking into creating a medical and hospital history library as well.

1st Floor North Wing

- Dietician offices will be moved to the front office to aid with public accessibility.

- The kitchen area will be used by Occupational Therapy to help gauge patients’ readiness to return home.

- Health and rehab will be moved here, with exercise equipment being moved into what had been the main room.

“Right now it’s really crowded,” Orford said. “The nice thing about having the treatment rooms is they are HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliant. Right now when people are coming in for their therapy there’s people working out, and right next to them people on a bench getting treated by a therapist … so there’s no privacy and some people prefer that.”

1st Floor South Wing

- Human Resources will be moved out of the basement, largely in response to feedback from current and prospective employees. Also, there are not private restrooms available for mandatory employee drug testing.

- Accounting, information systems, and an additional meeting room will be moved into this area. The administration offices and board room otherwise will remain as they are now.

Orford added that NVH isn’t in position to add new services at this point.

“With the Affordable Care Act, we’re staying with what we do well,” she said. “Adding services would be a gamble.”

Cariker reported on the progress of changing over to the new space utilization.

“We wanted to capture all the square footage as quickly as possible so that we could get it on the cost report,” he said. “We didn’t want it just sitting empty.”

He said that when the use of a room wasn’t changed, the Department of Health allowed it to be used immediately for the same purpose. In this case, that meant that moving providers who were in apartments could almost immediately move into the Verbeck Building rooms.

“We had all the furniture we’d already purchased – so we were able to furnish the apartments upstairs with furniture we already had.”

Other steps include:

- a full inventory of what was in the building, so that equipment could be reallocated as needed;

- other equipment will be subject to a surplus sale;

- working on a functional plan for the Department of Health, where areas of the building that are changing their use will be brought up to code for those uses.

He also reviewed some of the changes to spaces being vacated by departments moving into the Verbeck Building.

Verhasselt reviewed the financial effects of the changes.

shift over and become allowable expenses

“The depreciation, interest, utilities that were previously on Assisted Living, and maintenance, will shift over to the hospital side,” she said. “Also the interdivision lease will go away. So the net effect is $195,000 that will shift over to the hospital.

“Expenses that will be eliminated are the meals, laundry and supplies, and that will be $234,000.”

Dingus, Zaracor and Associates, the hospital’s independent auditor, will re-run cost report numbers based on the square footage added in to give NVH an idea of what its reimbursements will be in the future.

“The amount we have to write off will be reduced, so the net amount of cash that’s coming into the facility will be increased.”

DOH drops in

CEO Linda Michel reported that the Department of Health showed up for an unscheduled inspection on May 22, which is done on a periodic basis.

“They saw quite a difference from their last visit, which was 24 months ago,” Michel said. “They just pop in and say, ‘Good morning, we’re here for three days.’ We were ready for them.

“They found very little in their opinion that we could improve on. They said they had to dig pretty deep… They said we were very friendly, asked questions because we wanted to improve, and said they were very pleased.”

Michel listed a number of findings, considered minor, that were corrected before the DOH team departed.

“They left early (by a few hours),” she said. “It was a good inspection. And of course that is

Some already implementedSome already implemented

About Brent Baker

Brent is a reporter for the Gazette-Tribune. Prior to working at the G-T, he was the sports editor for Sunrise Publishing from 2000-2005 in Michigan. He subsequently owned and operated Buckland Media, a high school sports website, in Michigan until 2010. He and his wife Kim, who have an adult son, moved to Tonasket in 2010. Brent started work at the G-T in 2011.

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