PRESTON – Franklin County Medical Center’s chairman of the board of trusties Richard Westerberg and CEO Darin Dransfield brought Preston’s mayor and city council up to speed on where they are at during the COVID-19 pandemic last night.
“We have an ambitious vision for Franklin County Medical Center,” Westerberg said. “We want to be the absolute preferred medical provider in our area.”
Franklin County Medical Center is the largest employer in Franklin County. Westerberg, a former regional economic development specialist, said they would like to capture services they know are leaving their community and going to other hospitals to get services.
“Truthfully, not all of our facilities have been equivalent to our providers the last five or six years,” he said. “We have been on an aggressive movement to add quality, add bricks and mortar facilities to our medical center.”
The hospital built a new business office and attached a clinic at a cost of $2 million. They also purchased the old blocks building on Main Street and turned it into a world class physical therapy facility.
FCMC also recently added a surgery center with state-of-the art equipment with all the bells and whistles, Westerberg said.
“We hired a general surgeon. We recognized that if we were going to utilize the facility, we needed a surgeon,” he said. “We knew we were losing some patients to other hospitals now Dr. (Lance) Bryce is here and he can see and service those patients.”
A home health facility was added on Main Street, updated from the rickety house they were in.
“We are moving ahead. We need a new medical office building, we know, over at Willow Valley (Medical Clinic & Urgent Care). We are operating now at about 5,000 square feet,” he said. “It is inadequate for the work that is being done.”
He said FCMC is in the process of designing 12-14,000 foot medical office building, more than doubling their current facility.
“All of this would put us as the premier medical provider in our area,” he added. “We will have the facility, staff and practitioners to match anyone around.”
Westerberg then went on to discuss the impact the pandemic is having on FCMC.
“COVID-19 is a real deal and has a significant impact on the medical center financially, on facilities and certainly on personnel,” Westerberg said. “They are getting bone weary over there.”
Even with a pandemic, the board of directors are not slowing their pace or stopping their progress. They refuse to stop moving forward, he said.
Dransfield came before the City Council nine months ago to present how FCMC was preparing for COVID-19.
“I was so pleased with the hospital’s preparedness and could be not be more pleased with the way the providers, nurses and staff have handled things,” Dransfield said. “They are absolutely tremendous.”
FCMC has been recognized as one of the top 100 hospitals in the nation five years running, the CEO said.
“The reason for that rating is the vison of the Board of Directors, the quality of the employees and the quality of our providers,” Dransfield said. “We have several challenges ahead of us with COVID-19.”
Dransfield said they are asking nurses, practitioners and other staff to work overtime and they have the challenge of keeping workers and patience safe during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are not only protective of the patient but also our staff,” he said.” The indicator that keeps us up at night at the hospital are surge capacity or our capacity to take COVID-19 patients.”
The FCMC current capacity is three patients and they cannot exceed that without jeopardizing the health of the provider. The other indicator is what is happening at other hospitals if they need transfer patients.
“We keep a close eye on the bigger hospitals capacity,” he said. “We are optimistic, and we have the people in place to make it through this pandemic without losing normal business operations.”
FCMC is asking all residents to follow the recommendation given by Southeast Idaho Public Health to slow the spread of the illness by wearing masks and physically distancing.