09/14/04 — Hospital approves 495,000 dollar addition

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Hospital approves 495,000 dollar addition

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on September 14, 2004 2:00 PM

The Wayne Memorial Hospital board of directors voted unanimously today for a $495,000 expansion of an operating room.

It also approved a new pension plan for its employees and said goodbye to its financial officer.

Hospital President William Paugh said that the unbudgeted expansion of the No. 7 operating room was needed for neurosurgical services.

A $147.7 million expense budget was passed last month by the Wayne Memorial Hospital's board of directors for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

Paugh said he and staff members had been working on the expansion during budget time, but had not included it in the budget because they thought the room couldn't be expanded.

"We thought we would have to reallocate rooms," he said.

Further discussion with architects showed that the operating room could be expanded from the existing 410 square feet to 609 square feet.

There will also be over 2,000 square feet in the adjoining area that will be renovated.

"So we came on line quickly," he said. "There's more sophisticated equipment in the room that takes up additional space."

Lucas to retire

Board members said good-bye today to retiring Chief Financial Officer Micheal Lucas.

Paugh said it was bittersweet to welcome Becky Craig, the new financial officer, while saying good-bye to Lucas.

"He's been here 25 years and will be missed," Paugh said. "'Thank you' doesn't sound like nearly enough."

Paugh said Lucas's touch would be evident at the hospital for a long time.

Board Chairman James Gouty said that Lucas had even stepped in as chief executive officer for "about a year" before Paugh took the position.

Lucas brought laughter from board members when he said that it "was actually for three months, but it probably seemed like a year."

Board member Ken Gerrard said that the mere fact that Lucas had stayed for 25 years said a lot about him.

"You have been solid, sincere and good at your job," Gerrard said. "You stepped in when it was rocky."

Lucas said he had been blessed to work with such good people over the years.

Pension plan

The board also amended the employee pension plan, the deferral plan and adopted a new retirement savings plan.

The current contribution plan will be closed to new participants by the end of December, but employees already in the plan may elect to stay in.

Hospital contributions for those choosing to participate in the new retirement savings plan will be between 4 and 9 percent of employee pay.

Paugh said that a lot of work had been done on the retirement plan, but he thought it was good that employees working 1,000 hours or more a year would have a choice.

Gouty said that the board hoped that the new plan would alleviate the fluctuation of the market plan, enabling the hospital to budget better on the pension plan.

Customer service

Paugh also reported the following to the board:

*The hospital will start a customer service initiative later this month. He said that the hospital realized that its future depended on care. "The extra touch, that's our future," he said. The new program was developed after staff members met with an outside consultant to find out what needed to be done to enhance customer service.

*The hospital is continuing to work with 13 other hospitals in the area to form a regional alliance. Paugh said they were still discussing the possibility, but had agreed that if an alliance forms, each hospital would retain its autonomy. The work together would be on a project-by-project basis, he said.