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Hospital could need to expand

By GREG SCELLIN
Signal Editor

The Fillmore County Board of Supervisors worked through a light agenda at the board's regularly-scheduled meeting last week.  
Items on the February 26 agenda included:
• Fillmore County Hospital (FCH) CEO Chris Nichols updated the supervisors on activities at the local hospital.
"The hospital is having a good year," Nichols said.  "In fact, January (2019) was our strongest month, as far as numbers go.  We are busy in all areas."
Nichols noted that two departments are pulling patients and customers from a large area.  He said that 50 percent of the hospital's orthopedic patients are coming in from outside Fillmore County.  And, the new behavioral health center is pulling in customers from an even larger area.
"These two areas are pretty important to our future," he said.
Nichols said the transition to a new medical record program has been extremely taxing for FCH staff. He noted that staff has been working and training on it for over a year now.
"I hope, and I think we have chosen a system that will be good for the long haul," he said.
Nichols also commented that space at FCH, which was built in 2012, in some areas is becoming a potential problem.  Seven years ago when it opened, FCH employed about 115 people.  This number is approaching 175 now.
"We are re-engaged with the building's original architectural company and thinking about possible expansion over the next 10 years," he said.
• Fillmore County Highway Superintendent Pat Halbur reported that several motor graders are currently having start-up problems.  The supervisors also declared two motor graders as surplus.  The county board has indicated it desired to purchase at least one new machine this year.
• Supervisor Ralph Graham reported to the county board he feels the City of Geneva still has interest in the former hospital site.
"I feel they're still interested in that," he said.  "They are also looking at some other places."
Whether the current Geneva Fire Barn would be available to the county is also an issue.
• Gravel bids were opened and accepted.
• The county board went into recess and toured the progress at the new County Shop office building.  The project's general contractor, Cheever Construction Co., of Lincoln, is wanting some input on the building's roof.
"All we've done down there is band-aid, band-aid, band-aid on," Supervisor Kenny Harre said.
The supervisors set up a special meeting for March 5 to discuss the situation with Cheever and JEO personnel present.