While the Sierra Vista Hospital (SVH) governing board’s September 25 regular meeting did include several purchase approvals and a regular financial report, the afternoon’s session was highlighted by the administrators report and discussion focusing on activities surrounding the new hospital.

At the outset of his regular report, interim chief executive officer (CEO) David Faulkner directed the board’s attention to copies of the official Certificate of Occupation for the new hospital building. He urged the board and area residents to be proud and to welcome the successful achievement of a long-held community goal.

Faulkner briefly outlined how the certificate of occupation arrived just ahead of Labor Day and how SVH staff rallied to move hospital services into the new building over the holiday weekend. He praised the efforts of all involved with the move and while acknowledging the transition still is encountering minor issues and problems, the CEO assured board members that SVH’s staff is happy with the new facility and is eagerly attending to all necessary adjustments.

After confirming the hospital’s new CT scanner and Mammogram equipment are online, the auxiliary’s gift shop is open and that the coffee shop would soon be cleared to welcome customers, Faulkner acknowledged the transition has included several initial problems. He said a primary issue arose when one of the facility’s two elevators broke down, and another minor crisis involved modest water damage to an examination room from a leak discovered during heavy rains. While noting the leak damage was under warranty and was already addressed, the CEO relayed how the elevator failure prompted extra effort from staff to aid in directing patients to the hospital’s alternative elevator. In noting this later point, Faulkner said staff efforts to familiarize patients with the new building and to provide personal assistance would be ongoing. The CEO also told the board initial confusion already appeared to be ebbing and said he felt everyone would soon become much more comfortable with the new hospital and its surroundings.

To the latter point, board secretary Patsy Barnett raised concerns about traffic hazards at and leading to the hospital’s new Silver Street entrance. She questioned if the increased traffic might warrant a four-way stop at the Silver and Ninth Avenue intersection and whether modifications to better safeguard SVH’s Silver Street entrance should be considered.

Faulkner indicated traffic issues and signage improvements were already on his list of concerns. He told board members he would be looking to discuss future modifications of Silver Street and the hospital’s other accesses with City of Truth or Consequences officials as soon as might be possible.

In concluding his summary of operations at the new hospital, Faulkner said the rural health clinic emerged from a recent survey with no deficiencies and noted similar good results were obtained in simultaneous surveys examining SVH’s kitchen and other aspects of the facility. He also reported that the former Clinic-B portable building had been vacated and said Layton Construction offices were being relocated out of their formerly leased trailer. The CEO said both the Clinic-B and Layton trailers would soon be removed from the property, effecting a considerable cost savings for the hospital.

Faulkner further told the board that phase-two construction of the new hospital’s operating room and acute care facilities was mobilizing with a goal to complete the project in nine months.

ACTION ITEMS ADDRESSED

•Governing board members voted unanimously to approve an approximate $85,000 expenditure for the purchase of a Sound and Signal nursing call system for the new hospital. They then similarly endorsed an approximate $86,000 expenditure for the installation of a new paging and communication system. Faulkner said these additions would not come online until phase-two construction was near completion, but explained how installation of related equipment and wiring would first have to be incorporated into the construction project.

•The board similarly approved a capital outlay expenditure of approximately $315,000 final installation of a ventilation hood for SVH’s kitchen and related asbestos abatement. The CEO said the asbestos concern was relatively minor, and while noting he was looking forward to seeing the project completed, acknowledged that the project has now extended more than six months beyond its original two-week completion estimate.

•Governing board members further approved an approximate $124,000 capital outlay expenditure for the refurbishment of two ambulances. After detailing the hospital’s need to replace several ambulances and to establish a consistent replacement program, the CEO said the purchase price for new ambulances was presently about $130,000 per vehicle. With this noted, he said a firm in Texas would be able to install new chassis for SVH’s box-type ambulances, while retaining the original body and medical components. He said this firm would upgrade two ambulances for the $124,000 fee, a considerable cost savings.

•After reviewing recommendations from the hospital’s medical staff, the governing board approved a list of seven new and revised policies. Members were told these changes were direct responses to items identified during recent surveys and would assure the facility maintains compliance with regulatory expectations.

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