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KCC hears KershawHealth report

Posted: January 30, 2014 4:36 p.m.
Updated: January 31, 2014 5:00 a.m.

The Kershaw County Council received a quarterly report from KershawHealth on Tuesday evening. The short meeting went on as scheduled, despite the threat of inclement weather, which didn’t arrive until later.

KershawHealth Board Chairwoman Karen Eckford thanked council for their support.

"I appreciate the confidence you show in me. KershawHealth is a vitally important part of our community. It’s necessary for our well being. It’s necessary for economic development. It’s necessary on so many different levels," she said. "It’s an exciting place to be. The board has recently taken on a huge endeavor, to try to formulate a strategic plan."

Eckford said the board has been consulting with Ponder & Co., a Chicago-based healthcare finance firm with nine service offices, including one in Cary, N.C.

"We anticipate having at least a draft copy of a strategic plan by the end of the first quarter," she said, before introducing KershawHealth interim CEO Terry Gunn, who outlined the positives and the challenges of the hospital.

"You have so much going for you here in Kershaw County. On the healthcare side, we have a lot to work with," Gunn said. "This is a wonderful community."

Gunn said KershawHealth faces financial challenges that are prevalent throughout the healthcare industry.

"The healthcare industry in general has been challenged tremendously. We’ve seen decreased reimbursement levels continue to hit us years after year," he said. "We’ve seen rapidly escalating costs on the expense side, all at a time when increased access to health care has been one of the biggest challenges we’ve had to address as an industry."

Gunn said the problems of healthcare in general and KershawHelath in particular can be addressed and overcome.

"We can get through this, but it’s going to take some hunkering down, some perseverance and some focus and direction as we’re moving forward," he said. "It’s very important that we come out of the gate early on with a strategic plan. If we fail to plan, we might as well plan to fail."

Gunn said KershawHealth offers an impressive variety of services for a community of this size.

"About the only thing we don’t do in our community is open-heart surgery. You can have access to virtually every service line," he said. "That is almost unheard of in most parts of the country. It’s the reason we are still independent and the reason we have not had to look for other partners to help us survive."

Gunn concluded the presentation saying the future looks bright for KershawHealth, despite the challenges locally and across the industry.

"We have so many resources to take advantage of within the healthcare community here in Kershaw County. Our future is very bright. It’s going to be challenging. It’s going to require us to work as a team. As we partner with you, as we partner with the board, as we partner with the medical staff and other healthcare providers in the community, we will be able to build a healthcare foundation that will sustain business expansion and expand the health and the well being of our community for a long time to come."

District four Councilman Jimmy Jones asked Gunn about the hospital’s profitability.

"What was the loss or profit of the hospital last month?" Jones asked.

Gunn said he did not have exact figures for December 2013, but the hospital showed a loss for the month.

"I appreciate your honesty. Very rarely did I ever get straight answers prior to you being here," Jones said.

Gunn said the way for KershawHealth to prosper is to offer good quality services that will attract more patients.

In other business, council unanimously approved second readings on three ordinances. The first establishes a storm water plan, which Kershaw County Administrator Vic Carpenter said is required by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control approximately every five years.

The other two ordinances were on changing the zoning map on two parcels of property from RD-2 to R-12, allowing the lots to be subdivided into lots for the building of single-family homes. County Planning Director Carolyn Hammond told council she supported the changes, saying that when the RD-2 designation was set in 2000, the area was more rural than it is today. She also said she had heard of no opposition from the public to the zoning change.


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