Master plan and infrastructure discussed at BCMC Board Meeting

Warren, Arkansas – In a lengthy four-hour meeting Thursday, Bradley County Medical Center board members discussed two items that will have a long-term impact on the hospital: a comprehensive master plan and much-needed infrastructure.

By Tim Kessler

Several years ago, the board considered a Phase II construction plan that included such items as moving the helipad, changing parking layouts and moving the maintenance building, utilizing sales tax funds. That plan was never implemented and board Chairman Freddie Mobley said Thursday that he didn’t feel that plan was workable. He said if a new master plan was implemented, the board would be basically “starting from scratch.”

Aaron Scott and Terry Watson of Cromwell Architects Engineers of Little Rock appeared before the board to explain their company’s qualifications. Watson said he had been with the company for 15 years and Scott said he was with the firm for 17 years. Mindy Burton, a specification writer with the firm, is a Warren native.

They discussed several hospital projects they had completed in West Plains, Mo., and Conway, Paragould and Mountain View in Arkansas.

Paul Gregory of Polk, Stanley and Wilcox Architects of Little Rock also spoke of his company’s qualifications. He said the company put its emphasis on healthcare, education and civic projects, including 30 hospital projects in the state. Their clients have included UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Mercy Hospital in Fort Smith and Baptist Health Systems.

Gregory noted his ties to Warren included his great-grandfather, Dr. A.N. Bond, and several other relatives.

No decision was made on either firm, but Acting CEO Leslie Huitt said, “What we’re going to do is look at what we have and start developing a master plan.” Proposals for the preparation of a Master Plan will be advertised in the next couple of weeks.

Part of the master plan would have to include infrastructure renovation. The hospital opened its doors in 1951, with additions made as late as 1975. Maintenance supervisor Tim Saunders gave a detailed report noting several problems caused by the advanced age of the structure, including plumbing, electrical, diesel generator, boilers and air handlers.

He said the room where a $2 million MRI machine is located has had several air conditioning problems. Board members approved a motion to replace the air conditioning system, using sales tax funds.

In other action:

  • Huitt reported hospital volumes remained steady. “The ER has been drowning at times, First Station as well,” she said. Some problems in ER security will be addressed. Two disinfection devices will be purchased for about $25,000 each, using SHIP Grant Funding. The fund currently has about $3.8 million available for capital improvements. Although some staffing issues have been noted due to COVID protocols, Huitt said the staffing had improved this week.
  • Medical staff recommendations were approved, including the following: Dr. Suzanne Shepherd, RAPA, initial appointment to January 2023; Drs. Jasleen Singh and Achmed Turay, ESS, initial appointments to January 2023; Dr. David Chambers, family medicine, reappointment to November 2023; Drs. William Deaton and Steven Dunnagan, ESS, reappointments to January 2024; Dr. Rodney Dixon, ESS, temporary privileges; Dr. Jonathan Fravel, RAPA, reappointment to January 2024; Dr. Johnnie Hinton, nephrology, reappointment to January 2024; Drs. Don Kusenberger, W. Jean Matchett and John Scurlock, RAPA, temporary privileges; Dr. James Landry, ESS, reappointment to March 2024; Dr. Michael Weiner, pathology, temporary privileges; Lisa McAdams and Julie Wylie, APRN, nephrology, reappointments to January 2024; and Dr. Ian Birkett, pathology, move to inactive status.
  • New Chief Nursing Officer Jamie Wolfe said Cheryl Wells was hired as ER manager. He said nursing staffing remains a concern. He noted that many patients currently are waiting longer to come to the hospital for treatment, which means they come in sicker, taking up more resources. There have been some shortages in pharmacy supplies.
  • Vice President of Support Services Marilyn Johnson said hospital managers have been focusing on educational issues. Patient complaints and fire evacuation policies have been reviewed. She said a study on using solar panels at the hospital has been done.
  • A motion was approved to update the required Vaccine Mandate policy with the new CMS deadlines and to require that N95 masks must be used by any employees who sought medical or religious exemptions from COVID vaccine mandates.
  • A motion was approved to make changes to board bylaws to correct page numbers and other typos. The change was needed to be in compliance with a USDA grant application.
  • An update was approved to the fire and building evacuation manual.
  • Medical staff bylaw changes and medical staff officers were also approved.
  • A motion was approved to grant Johnson access to hospital bank lock boxes.
  • A letter was presented to the board from Sharon Balentine of Make Warren Shine. She expressed appreciation to the board for hiring Bradley County residents to fill the following positions: Huitt, chief financial officer and interim CEO; Wolfe, CNO; Leeanne Williams, risk and privacy director; and Johnson. “They all are doing a great job facing problems and improving all interactions with BCMC. We all know how important and necessary our hospital is to our community. I have attended Quorum Court meetings and BCMC has been well represented. We are so thankful for the important jobs they are facing and tackling. Keep up the hard work and know you all are greatly appreciated,” Balentine said.

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