Syringa board tackles need for multi-million dollar renovation | News

Syringa board tackles need for multi-million dollar renovation | News
Syringa board tackles need for multi-million dollar renovation | News

GRANGEVILLE — As Syringa Hospital faces multiyear financial losses, the board of trustees is grappling with how to pay for needed infrastructure updates and provide the best care to the residents in its taxing district.

Rising supply costs, a shortage of health care providers and inadequate payment models and reimbursement for services are all reasons why the hospital finances are challenging.

Syringa trustees voted at the April 26 meeting to obtain a consulting engagement not to exceed $36,000 to help figure out how to move forward with phase one of a $6-$8 million renovation project.

All told, the facilities committee has mapped out the needs for an approximately $40 million master facilities plan. The committee consists of CEO Abner King, board trustees Jane Carlson and Leta Strauss, CFO Dave Applewood, COO Michelle Schaeffer, director of quality and risk management Lauren Wilson, director of human resources Kim Bixby, Dr. Matthew Told, revenue cycle director Carrie Forsmann , CNO Curt Brimacomb, grant administrator Arne Walker, and maintenance head Gus Hoene.

According to February meeting notes, the first step of the project would be to relocate physical therapy to across from the Soltman Center, which would free up the land for the next phase. The next step would be to demo the Hollopeter building, the current PT building, and where materials management is located. Two OR surgery areas would then be built, the pharmacy moved to where there could be a drive-through, making for additional clinic space and restructuring the way patients flow through.

CFO Applewood presented a variety of financial findings at the April 26 meeting and reported he has been working with Alan Richman with Innovative Capital to try and find funding options for the plans.

“Based on our latest audited financials, he was not optimistic about our financing opportunities,” Applewood relayed to the board.

He presented a 20-year summary of the financial statements from 2004-2023. During that period, Syringa had a positive operating margin in only three of the years: 2004, 2007 and 2009. However, 13 of those years had a positive bottom line after non-operating income from taxes and grants. Syringa’s cash on hand has varied throughout the past two decades, from a low of $1.7 million in 2011 to $7.2 million in 2023.

The $36,000 consulting fee will help provide a business optimization initiative on financial and operation improvement, King explained.

“The intent is to identify actionable performance improvement opportunities,” he said, focusing on the areas of the Medicare cost report, clinical service offerings, revenue cycle functions, provider deployment and distribution, department financial performance and organizational efficiencies.

“Once we have committed to these, lenders will be more favorable to financing our needs,” King said.

The master facilities plan will continue to be a topic at future board meetings.

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