The next three years could completely change the look and the scope of services offered by Humboldt General Hospital.
Humboldt General is moving forward on several phases of expansion that will add or enhance services currently offered at the rural hospital in Winnemucca — services that are crucial to the long-term financial health of any rural hospital, Chief Executive Officer Jim Parrish says.
Speaking at the Winnemucca Futures Forum in May, Parrish said that rural hospitals often fall behind — both fiscally and with their service offerings — in a slow and gradual decline.
“It does not occur overnight,” Parrish says. “Often, the string of poor decisions dates back many years. Leadership and community members are lulled into complacency because the hospital is still operating. What they do not realize is that they are falling behind and will never catch up.”
Services deemed cornerstones to Humboldt General’s long-term viability include:
Expansion of those services is needed to avoid the need to send patients 165 miles west to Reno for care. Humboldt General already has addressed some its issues by expanding its acute care wing, which was completed along with an outdoor courtyard area in December of 2013.
Its plans for future expansion beginning in 2015 include building a parking garage to provide off-street parking. Other new construction that would significantly expand the footprint of the hospital includes new private labor and delivery rooms, new surgical rooms to enhance pre- and post-operational flow, as well as the volume and types of procedures provided by Humboldt General physicians. Additional room in the emergency room would allow increased observation bays and a more efficient patient layout, and an expanded memory-care wing would allow Humboldt County residents to stay closer to home for dementia and Alzheimer’s care. Lastly, medical offices built atop the parking garage would focus on clinical care for women and families and be linked directly to the hospital.
The expansion plans could add as much as 70,000 square feet to Humboldt General Hospital’s footprint. More importantly, Parrish says, the added facilities would give the hospital a much-needed edge as a recruitment tool for brining new physicians to Winnemucca.
The projects currently are in the pre-design phase and will be let for bid beginning in first quarter of 2015.
The organization has several factors working in its favor to pull off its ambitious expansion plans. Foremost, it has absolutely no debt. Secondly, it’s got nearly a year’s cash on hand at $40.7 million — more than double the industry standard.
Humboldt General in 2003 had more than $4 million in debt, but by mid-2011 the hospital had eliminated its debt completely.
Humboldt General had been operating at a loss of $2 million a year in 2003, but by 2006 the hospital began generating profit. Profit peakied in 2012 at $8 million. The organization has a net worth of $85.1 million, Parrish says. It has allocated nearly $40 million over the past 10 years for capital improvements, including almost $4 million to reduce its debt.