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Three Hospital Board terms were up for appointment this year. Representatives from Steele Memorial Medical Center and the Hospital Broad recommended to the Lemhi County Commissioners that the board members be reappointed and the county board concurred since all three were willing to continue serving.

Hospital Board Chairman Dennis Lile, Hospital Administrator and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Hill, Chief Financial Officer Greg Hexem and board member Doug Clore met with the County Commissioners Monday, October 14 to discuss the board appointments and the facilityís proposed budget for 2015.

Hill said the hospitalís Finance Committee has approved the projected budget and passed it along to the Hospital Board which also approved it. Hexem said budget highlights include the hospitalís continuation of a search for providers so that medical care can be obtained here, eliminating the need for patients to travel elsewhere. He said the provider recruitments have enabled increased use of the hospital. The increase in revenue helps to keep expenses under control.

Hexem said another highlight is the reinvestment into the facilityís employees who will see a two percent increase in wages and one percent market adjustment in the 2015 budget year. He said that translates to a $200,000 investment. He cited major increases in hospital operating expenses such as a $273,000 hike in health insurance and another $161,000 in service/maintenance contracts on newly purchased equipment plus a three to five to ten percent increase in the cost of general supplies which amounts to another $241,000. All in all he said 2015 will see a $1.1 million increase in the hospitalís expense base. Hexem went on to say, that expense growth can be covered.

In an update regarding principal and interest payments on the citizen approved bond to build the facility Hexem said the amount in 2015 will be $742,700. Of that the county contributes $162,700 on the interest and $223,000 towards the principal. The Steele Reese Foundation provides $125,000 and the hospital pays $232,000. Hexem offered appreciation to the county, Steele Reese and to the Hospital Board for its efforts towards keeping the hospital financially viable.

Hexem said the budget includes continued purchases of new diagnostic equipment and upkeep for the equipment already in place.

Board member Doug Clore said historically small hospitals have more problematic challenges than larger facilities however Steele Memorial is one of the few in the country actually making money. He said there are two main reasons for that; the lack of super infection incidents in the hospital and the low rate of re-admissions after patients are discharged. He said that indicates a very high level of quality care. There is now a government penalty for re-admissions and there were only two at Steele Memorial in 2014 which is very low. Lile added this hospitalís infection rate is 0.5 compared to the Centers for Disease Control standard of up to 2.5. Clore said as long as those rates continue to be maintained the hospital will remain very healthy financially.

Hill said this hospital targets a conservative three percent margin and that percentage allows reinvestment in the staff, equipment and the physical plant. He said the Steele Memorial Medical Center is currently infusing this community with an annual payroll of $8 million.

Hill also said money has been included in the hospitalís budget for possible acquisition of the Jordon Smith Law Office building. He said acquiring the building would keep the continuity of the medical center ďcampusĒ in place and would provide much needed space for medical records, examination rooms and physician offices.

The commissioners thanked the group for providing an overview of the Steele Memorial Medical Center budget complexities.

In addition to Lile and Clore the Hospital Board membership includes; Kimberly Nelson, Kristin Troy, Mike Ries, Mark Oliverson DMD, Linda Price and Cori Allen. Hospital CEO Hill and Lemhi County Commissioner Rick Snyder are Ex-Officio board members.

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