Lawrence Memorial Hospital's future could include a new $4.8 million medical office building and a hospital-operated community health plan that would establish LMH as an insurer and health care provider.
The LMH Board of Trustees voted this morning to hire the Graham Group Inc. of Des Moines, Iowa, to oversee development of the building project. Graham's estimated fee is $551,106.
The board also voted to hire Henningson, Durham and Richardson Inc., an Omaha, Neb., architectural firm, to provide architectural services for the medical office building, for a fee not to exceed $25,000.
"It seems to me we've been talking about building a medical office building, and now we've reached the decision, we're going to build a medical office building," said board chairman Robert Johnson.
THE PROPOSED three-story building may be expanded by one floor if enough medical providers express interest in leasing space, said Robert Ohlen, the hospital's executive director.
The hospital plans to occupy about half the proposed building, with the other half available for lease.
One of Graham's responsibilities will be to obtain signed leases from potential tenants prior to construction. Graham also will provide construction management services and assist the hospital in preparing the building's final budget.
The trustees also voted to hire Hospital Health Plan Corp. of White Bear Lake, Minn. to conduct a feasibility study and determine if LMH could develop and operate a community health plan, providing insurance as well as health care to local employers and individuals.
Hospital Health Plan Corp. would be paid $100,000 plus travel and other costs, not to exceed $125,000, for the study.
The study will identify major employers in Douglas County and their health plans, analyze the county's demographic information and projected changes, formulate market strategy and forecast enrollment in a local hospital health plan.
HOSPITAL officials and trustees visited a community hospital in Licking, Ohio, with a community health plan, which Johnson termed "a pro-active wellness program."
The system allows physicians to track patients' health on a long-term basis and counsel patients on ways to improve their health by changing their habits, Ohlen said.
"At the initial physical, they enter in the computer information about the patient, including smoking, drinking, eating and exercise habits," he said.
The computer even keeps track of children who are not brought in for immunizations, Ohlen said.
"If there is no response to the letter, after two weeks, a visiting nurse arrives at the home, with shot in hand," he said.
"When you get to a certain age, I hope the computer doesn't spit out a letter to have the undertaker come to your home," joked trustee Don Johnston.
The program can benefit employers too, said trustee Dr. Mark Praeger.
"One employer was able for the first time to see the segment of his smoking employees," Praeger said. "He realized, `If I can modify the behavior of my employees, I can bring my costs down.'"