Normally at year’s end the “year” kind of sneaks up on you. Each of us is busy living our lives and the next thing you know when we look up it is Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year. This is not the case for the Year 2020. There has been a significant amount of illness and loss within our hospital family and community due to the COVID-19 virus. The virus has also had a financial impact on our operations and in some instances changed the way in which we are providing healthcare services. We have seen dramatic decreases in our inpatient and emergency room numbers. Our outpatient services did experience an initial downward movement but has been on a steady climb back to average visits by year’s end. There has even been an increase in inpatient census during the last two months of the year (mostly non-COVID-19 patients).

Things really are not as bleak as one might think after reading the above introductory paragraph. One of the wonders of working in the healthcare delivery business is witnessing true miracles from healthcare workers. How else would we be able to explain the lightning speed at which not one, but two highly effective and safe vaccines have been developed and are currently being administered! I was listening to a scientist researcher at Iowa State who is doing work in this area and he stated: “It is why we go to work each day.”

At the hospital there have been some significant projects that our board has approved that will ensure the hospital and clinics will continue to be a viable and relevant operation in the years that lie ahead. The first has to do with infrastructure, and that is the installation of a new emergency generator power source for the entire hospital. In the past there would be “pockets” or areas of the hospital that would not be serviced by the old emergency generator. With funds from the Guthrie County Development Grant and the Guthrie County Hospital Foundation and cash from operations this project is nearing completion sometime in early 2021.

The second large project that the hospital board approved was the construction of a new approximately 7,000 square feet, rural health clinic in Panora. The clinic will sit on a one-acre parcel located on the east-side of town on Panora Telco’s property, on the south side of Highway 44. The new building will have nine exam rooms, one proce- dure room, one lab draw room, one X-ray room, three offices and one conference/multi-purpose room. There will be two entrances, a main one on the north side for primary care patients and a specialty clinic entrance on the southwest side of the building. Construction is slated to commence in March of 2021 and end around Thanks- giving time of 2021.

The third large project that the board approved was the migration from our current electronic health record to an EPIC Community Connect health record. EPIC Systems Corporation, Verona, Wisconsin, is the largest electronic health record vendor in the country with 1,568 total acute care hospitals, a 29% market share. It is the premier health record and it will serve the patients and healthcare providers of Guthrie County well in the years ahead. The funding of this project will come from a small interest loan and installation is projected one year from now. One of the large benefits to our patients and providers is that those patients in Guthrie County that also receive their healthcare at the UnityPoint Health hospitals in Des Moines, the University of Iowa Hospital & Clinics, or the Mayo Clinic their access to their individual health record will be that much more convenient.

Although the Year 2020 presented its challenges Guthrie County Hospital is optimistic about the future of our Guthrie County people. Scientists are working hard to develop new medicines to protect you and your family. Your local hospital is working hard to ensure that infrastructure and services are in place so that you will continue to have access to the best that healthcare has to offer . . . “It’s why we go to work each day!”

Yours in health,
Pat Peters, CEO
Guthrie County Hospital