In May 29-June 4 issue By Greg Wells Times Journal Managing Editor
ALBANY, Ky. - Some members of the Russell County Fiscal Court, Jamestown and Russell Springs city officials and the members of the local hospital board piled into a school bus last Thursday for a trip to Clinton County.
Randall Flowers, the administrator at the Clinton County Hospital, arranged for civic leaders from this county and his own county to tour the new upgraded facilities which didn't officially open until the next day.
A $14 million addition to the hospital is the third expansion at the hospital in the last 10 years, according to the staff there.
This addition placed two more surgery units online, in addition to the other which was part of the last addition. It also added a new emergency room, allowing the old one to be turned into clinic space.
There are two floors of bed space above the new surgeries and emergency room, each is a private room and there is a secured pediatric ward.
Jerry Westerfield, a physician who works at both hospitals said the pediatrics unit, as well as the obstetrics rooms and part of the clinic has just this week been occupied by a new obstetrician / gynecologist.
In the radiological department there is a new suite of x-ray equipment along with a state-of-the-art 40 slice CT scanner.
A technician on the tour showed some of the doctors the fine degree of detail the new machine provides of every part inside the body. The machine cost $935,000 and is the only one of its kind in the region.
With costs like that along, with $5,000 apiece for regular beds in the rooms and $28,000 for beds in the intensive care, Flowers said all the hospital has to do is keep just three more patience on average and that will be enough to cover the additional loan payments.
In his 20 years of service at that hospital, Flowers has moved the hospital to a independent non-profit hospital which not only can afford such an expansion but can operate without any tax money.
"Its probably the best rural hospital for a city that size in the state," Westerfield said. "I see this county as being more affluent and I think we should have something comparable."
Given the expansion and improvement there and at the Westlake facility in Columbia he said it would become more difficult to attract the best doctors to Russell County Hospital without similar improvements.
"It's a nice facility," commented Magistrate Gary Robertson. "It would be nice to have here. Once we get some of the debt whittled down."
That seemed the sentiment among at least some of the officials at the tour.
"I like that hospital and I think we need to update our hospital," said Magistrate Greg Popplewell. "But right now something like that is too expensive for Russell County. Right now though we need to make sure we have enough money to pay the bills."
He also mentioned that Flowers was able to accomplish the growth that hospital has seen without tax money.
Westerfield mentioned that both Adair and Clinton counties are expanding their hospitals and neither are tax supported.
Flowers explained that the hospital was run by a non-profit corporation.
He also said they had worked with agencies to secure the loan from the federal government, through the department of agriculture to build the new addition, though they still have some debt from the other expansions.
One of that hospital's board members, Kenneth McWhorter, said the new debt is at less than 4 percent over a 40 year term.
"Three additional patients a day," is what Flowers said it will take for the hospital to pay for the new three-story addition.
That facility is now open and patience are filling those new beds. Work on the major expansion at the Westlake Hospital in Columbia has begun and is expected to be completed relatively soon. It will be a two-story addition to the existing facility.
Westlake is also currently in the process of building a major expansion of the Casey County hospital, the facility it operates in Liberty.
"We're going to have to re-evaluate the management of this hospital," Westerfield commented. "We should be planning right now to break ground here in two years."
The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
P.O. Box 190
120 Wilson St.
Russell Springs KY 42642
Russell County News is a weekly newspaper issued on Saturdays, and is mailed free to every address in Russell County, Ky. It was first published on February 1, 1913.
404 Monument Square
Jamestown KY 42629