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Graham County Hospital History

HISTORY OF GRAHAM COUNTY HOSPITAL

The first mention we find of the need for a hospital in Graham County was in the will of John Legere, which was read for probate on April 4, 1944.  It provided funds from three quarter sections to be used for establishing a hospital in this area-within 10 years from the date of probate.  The 480 acres of pasture land left by Mr. Legere is southwest of Hill City and was estimated to be worth $10,000 at this time.

Mr. Legere lost his only child after a short illness and he lost his wife after a long lingering illness.  In 1936 Mr. Legere himself suffered a severe illness and spent many long months in hospitals away from home.  It was at this time that he decided Graham County needed a hospital and so he made provisions for its start in his will.

In May of 1944 the City Council adopted a resolution accepting the gift from the estate of the late J.H. Legere.  It was noted that the amount of money to be available would not be known for some time.

At this time, World War II was in progress and it was an unlikely time for much publicity regarding building a hospital and so the committee, which was appointed, was “keeping an eye on things”.  However, at this time the discussion of building the hospital was being discussed at the local social clubs and at the Chamber of Commerce meetings.  Apparently discussion was all that was being done since the committee was not appointed until March of 1947 and at that time; C.E. Birney, Virgil Pembleton and Roland Trexler was appointed to spearhead the promotion of a hospital.

In July of 1947, the Chamber of Commerce voted a campaign to solicit signatures on petitions asking the County Commissioners to call a bond election for money to build a county hospital.

In February of 1948 a poll was taken.  Forms were printed in the Hill City Times, “Do You Want A Hospital or Dontcha?”  The returns were about 1/2 for and 1/2 against the hospital.  Another question:  Why do we need a hospital?  The answer was:  We need more doctors in Graham County and it is almost impossible to interest a doctor in locating anywhere that hospital facilities are not available to him.  Also noted was:  Take a trip to any of our closest hospitals 40 to 60 miles away and visit the rooms containing Graham County patients.  This may surprise you.  A Hospital Will Draw People Together And Give Them An Opportunity To Serve.

People who served on Promotional Committees are as follows:  Virgil Pembleton; John Gordon, R.W. Trexler, C.E. Birney, Fred Miles, Clarence Dean, J.O. McVey, Marie Engleman, R.J. McCauley, Marie Robinson, Art Thompson, Harry Minium, George Gustafson, and J.B. Cameron.  These people gave many hours of their time and also much of their own money, traveling back and forth to Topeka and other hospitals doing research and presenting ideas.

A new committee had been appointed by the Chamber of Commerce to push for a hospital in Graham County.  The committee thought that the best plan would be to raise all of the money for the building project through private donations.

At this time C.E. Birney was organizing the local attorneys to write wills for people without making any charge-in the event a bequest for hospital purposes was made of not less that one hundred dollars.

In 1949 the people were reminded that five years had past since the reading of John Legere’s will.  “If we are going to build a hospital we had better be doing something about it.  If we don’t get this done in the next five years, the land will be disposed of.”  It was noted that within the last five years nearly $5,000 had been accumulated from the land.  This was considered a good start.

The committee continued to work in earnest.  More articles were printed in the Hill City Times, promoting the hospital.  An interesting article printed on September 15, 1949 compared doctors of today with the doctors of yesterday.  “Looking back over the history of the practice of Medicine in Graham County, one is apt to wonder how people survived.  The answer is that often they didn’t.”  Doctors need clean surroundings with sterile instruments to practice efficiently.  No doctor could think of competing without modern equipment and modern facilities.

The Chamber of Commerce held a day of discussion on the Hospital.  It wanted to hear the Pros and Cons.  The committee had met with much that was encouraging but also had met with some opposition.  The committee wanted to hear from this opposition.  The committee believed that we were paying for a hospital whether “WE GIT IT OR NOT”.  They rationalized that we paid in doctor’s fees, hospital fees, social welfare fees, in loss of life, in loss of trade, and loss of prestige.

An Elk dinner was scheduled.  Albert Pratt donated the elk and everyone was invited to attend.  The cost of dinner was $1.00 per plate.  About 70 persons came.  It was noted that $30,000 had been pledged toward the building and a drive to raise the remainder of $100,000 was planned for the future.

In January of 1950 the suggestion came to the committee that our hospital be built as a memorial to our pioneers.  The committee liked the suggestion and felt that a hospital building dedicated to their memory would be a fitting tribute to the contribution and sacrifice they made for us.

Then came a slight setback: We were informed by State and Federal Construction Representative that No Federal Funds Would Be Available For The Graham County Hospital.  The explanation was something like this: In the Western half of Kansas there are about five hospital beds for every 1,000 population which is considered sufficient regardless of distance to a hospital.  It is probable that no more hospitals will be granted Federal Funds in the Western half of Kansas within any reasonable length of time.  It was also brought up that Graham County would not need--could not afford--and does not want a large--nor as an expensive an institution as it would take to comply with Federal requirements for financial assistance.

One suggestion that the committee particularly liked was, making some kind of dedication to recognize pioneer, Miss Martha Worcester, who was said to be truly a pioneer in Graham County in the educational field.

Then a break came in the form of a donation.  At the end of July 1951, Mrs. Malcom Creighton, of Kansas, formerly from Hill City, announced that she would give an area the size of a city block, from her land at the north edge of Hill City, to be used as a location for a hospital.  The plot was designated as 300 feet by 300 feet in the southwest corner of the field just across the highway east of the J.O. McVey Place.  (This is the present site of the hospital.)  The gift of land to be used for the hospital’s site was made by Mrs. Creighton as a memorial to her husband, the late Malcomb Creighton, who passed away November 30, 1932.  The site given for the hospital was an ideal location.

Donations for the project continued to filter in.  There were donations of 100 dollars, 25 dollars and anonymous donations of 1,000 dollars on more than one occasion.  Everybody was getting in the act.  The Hill City High School donated $77.85, which was realized from the benefit program given in honor of Miss Worcester by the band.  Other donations were received by the committee also.  But much more was needed before the total would be enough to engage a contractor for the building program.  Pleas went out to those who wished to make cash donations:  “You should do it now, so that the amount may be deducted from your 1951 income tax report.”

Stories of the life of Miss Worcester began to filter in to the Times, and it was announced that there would be a prize for the best story on the life of Miss Worcester.  Then the hospital committee asked for stories on each of our pioneers, a story to file away in the historical room of our new hospital.  In March of 1950 Bonnie Worcester, a great niece, printed a story in the Times on the life of Miss Worcester, which was an excellent history.  A copy of that history is in the archives of the Historical Society.  Incidentally, there is no information on who won the contest.

In March of 1952, the preliminary plans for the hospital had arrived.  Estimated cost of the building and equipment was $195,000.  The plan was to finance the cost by contributions, taxation, and the Legere Estate funds.

C.R. Dean was named chairman of the finance committee, to solicit donations, and a chairman was appointed for each township.

It was found that public sentiment was in favor of financing by taxation.  So securing funds by taxation was considered to be the more equitable way of handling the project.

Also petitions were to be circulated asking the Board of County Commissioners to call a special election for the purpose of submitting the proposition to the voters of Graham County.

The furnishing of a patient room including equipment for two patients would cost about $650.  Clubs and other organizations were asked to go together and furnish patient rooms or equipment for the operating and X-ray rooms.  It was still hoped that enough donations would be made that taxation would not be necessary to build and equip the hospital.  The question must include the total cost of the project as a maximum that can be spent for building and equipping a modern, 16-bed hospital for Graham County.

Only a few days after the proposed Graham County Hospital plans came out in the Hill City Times, it announced the Golden Anniversary of Dr. Lottie Law, to be on the following Sunday, which was March 30th of 1952.  Also a dedication was made to the other Graham County Family Doctors.  Those physicians are as follows: Dr. Bundy, Dr. I.B. Parker, Dr. Frank Fuller, Dr. Audry, Dr. Wilkinson, Dr. F.A. McDonald, Dr. B.P. Williamson, Dr. Norish, Dr. W.E. Mowry, Dr. VanDyne, Dr. David Parker, Dr. Gaither, Dr. Von Bucholtz, Dr. Stewart, Dr. Wilson, Dr. Carry, Dr. Nooth, Dr. Brooks, Dr. Weber, Dr. Miller, Dr. Brown, Dr. Ferrow, Dr. Hawkins, Dr. Potekin, Dr. Brocker, Dr. Colvin, Dr. Stewart and Dr. Gardner.  At that particular time, i.e., 1952, Dr. Vesper and Dr. Lottie Law were the only medical doctors in Graham County.

Dr. Donald Marchbanks and Dr. Dale Smith of Kansas City, Missouri planned to be in Hill City that weekend (March 30, 1952) to meet with the Hospital Planning Board and County Officials.  They started their Family Practice in Hill City on July 26, 1952.

The Hospital election was scheduled for Tuesday, April 29th, 1952.  A last minute effort was made by the committee to promote the election.  The Times printed a list of all that had been pledged.  It further stated that all would be returned if the hospital is not built.  Plans were made for name plaques to be placed on all doors equipped by private parties, if the hospital issue passed on Election Day.

The facilities of the proposed hospital included: eight patient rooms with maximum capacity of 16 beds, Waiting Room, Offices, Operating Room, Delivery Room, X-ray, Emergency Room, Sterilizing, Doctors and Nurses Room, Kitchen, Mechanical equipment, air conditioning, and miscellaneous.  The building was to be fire resistant throughout and of modern design for efficient operation. 

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On April 29, 1952, 1451 persons went to the polls and voted and the hospital project carried 4 to 1.  Yes, we would have a hospital.

In June of 1952 the estimated cost of equipping the various rooms of a General Hospital in Hill City was $31,900.  It was noted that the entire cost of equipping the laboratory was $900, the X-ray department $5,000, and the Operating room $3,600.  Pleas were again made for more pledges.

In September of 1952, it was announced that 10 bids were submitted to the Board of Hospital Trustees for their consideration.  Amounts of the bids were found to range from a low of $180,000 to $213,000.  The Board approved the low bid.  This bid was made by G.A. Doolittle, Jr., Construction of Wichita.  Construction was to begin within 10 days after the signing of the contract, which was anticipated within the next few days.  Actual work on the building was delayed while scarce materials could be secured.  Six months working time was estimated to be required for the completion of the building.

At this time the members of the Hospital Board of Trustees were:  E.C. Thompson of Bogue, George Gustafson of Palco, Harry Minium of Morland, R.J. McCauley and J.B. Cameron, both of Hill City.

The Hospital construction began and in anticipation for its completion the residents of Graham County were very busy.  Some of the organizations were having Bazaars, Food Sales, Dinners, and Programs to raise money for donations to the Hospital.

A Hospital Drapery Fund was set up at the Consolidated State Bank and Mrs. C.E. Irwin was appointed to head the drapery sewing.  Material arrived and sewing hours were set up at the High School Building.  About 75 women took part.

Finally the building was completed and the Dedication was set for Sunday, December 13, 1953.  Open house was to be held at the Hospital Building from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the afternoon and the dedication program was to be held in the Grade School Auditorium at 8 p.m. Sunday evening.

There had been a single-minded purpose behind the hospital drive; to make possible the best modern medical and nursing service to the people of this area.

It was expected that well over a thousand people would attend the open house.  In the evening there was a Program at the School Auditorium with Ruth Kackley, Mistress of Ceremonies and Justus Jay Parker, State Supreme Court Judge, giving the dedication address.

On the long anticipated Dedication Day, it was a wet muddy day and the new hospital halls were tracked with mud.  But this did not dampen the visitor’s spirits or take away from the beauty of the building.

Personnel of the new hospital were hired with W.D. McDougall as Administrator and Delores Barnes, Supervisor of Nursing.  Incidentally these persons had been on the job for several months as the hospital began treating patients prior to the dedication ceremony.  Also named on the list of employees were:  Lorene Tebo, Reception Clerk and Bookkeeper; Julie Stringer and Virginia Nugent, full time RN’s and Peggy Wilson and Rosalie Jolly, part time RNs; Nurses Aids were:  Norma Brown, Evelyn Kiser, Mrs. Lou Upshaw, Hazel Ginther, Billie Bates and Leita Applegate.  Kitchen help were Rita Miller and Minnie Steed with Mrs. Charles Dean of Norton as Relief Kitchen, Laundry and Cleaning help.  Roy Colbert was the Maintenance Man and Mrs. Viola Moore, Cleaning.

The active staff of doctors included:  Dr. Lottie F. Law, Dr. V.A. Vesper, and Dr. Donald Marchbanks of Hill City; Dr. Steichen of Lenora; Dr. John Neuenschwander of Hoxie, Dr. Carl Gunter and Dr. Herman Heisterman, Quinter; Dr. Arnold Pederson and Dr. Dale Paige of Plainville; Dr. Joseph Sietz and Dr. Glenn Martin of WaKeeney.  The hospital was open to practice to any doctor licensed by the State of Kansas as a doctor of Medicine in good standing in his own medical society and approved by the Graham County Hospital Board of Trustees.

Guests were waiting outside the building most of the afternoon for their turn to see the beautiful new building.  Christine Griffith conducted groups of visitors through the rooms.  Hospital personnel were stationed throughout the building to explain the uses of the equipment and furnishings.  Most were impressed by the new Hospital and surely felt a glow of pride at the part they had been able to contribute to make it a reality.

The evening program drew a standing room only crowd.  Also there were many visitors and physicians from other towns.

The last cup of coffee had barely been served at the dedication reception when the first baby to be born in the Graham County Hospital made her appearance early Monday morning. She was Rebecca Sue Goddard, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bill Goddard of northwest Penokee. She was born at five minutes past midnight on December 14th, 1953.

Doolittle Construction Company gave the hospital an inlaid wood wall plaque; an abstract of Oil, Agriculture, Livestock, and Medicine in Graham County.  That plaque is still displayed in the East Hospital lobby.

Only a few months after the dedication of the Hospital, Richard Werling became the Administrator.  In his nine years as the Administrator he also served in the capacity of Laboratory Technician and Insurance Clerk.  It was not uncommon to see him mowing the grass around the hospital in the summer evenings.

Dr. Carl Kobler returned to his home town to practice medicine in 1954. Shortly after Dr. Kobler started his practice, Dr. Charles See also joined the Medical Staff.   

It soon became apparent that 16 beds was not enough, so again plans were made by the Board of Directors to build a ten bed addition.  This was completed in 1956.  At the same time a basement was included in the new addition.  This is the North Wing of the Hospital.

In 1963 William Pugh became the Administrator.  He served for 16 years in this office.

In 1965 Medicare, (Insurance for the aged) went into effect and the entire nation saw more Medicare admissions and longer hospital stays.  It was at this time that many hospitals around the nation and surrounding counties began to build new hospitals or additions on already existing facilities.

In 1967, an addition to the Graham County Hospital provided rooms for 11 more beds.  At this time a larger Business Office, Staff Room and Dining Room was added.  Later a larger Laundry Room and Kitchen were added to the hospital.

Dr. P.J. Reddy joined the Medical Staff of Graham County Hospital in August of 1973. Dr. P.J. and his wife Nalini are originally from the Andhra Padesh State of South India. Dr. P.J. Reddy received his Degree in Medicine from Andhra Medical College in India and then came to the United States in 1967 for training in surgery. He spent one year doing an internship and four years training in general surgery in New York City and became a Board Eligible Surgeon there. Subsequently he became a Board Certified Surgeon. From New York City he went to Syracuse, N.Y. to the Upstate Medical Center where he completed a year of training in plastic surgery techniques before coming to Hill City with his wife, Nalini, and son, Gautham.

The history of the Graham County Hospital has not been all “a bed of roses”.  As in anything good there is always some controversy.  Our hospital is not exempt from this rule.  In 1974 the question arose whether or not the hospital should be allowed to use the hospital facilities for the clinic, or whether the county should lease a clinic.  The option was to build a new clinic or to lease the already built and equipped clinic from Dr. Kobler.  The county brought this to a vote and it was elected to lease the clinic from Dr. Kobler.

Dr. B.N. Reddy joined the Medical Staff of Graham County Hospital in March of 1976. Dr. B.N. Reddy received his medical degree from Kakatiya Medical College, Osmania University in his native country of India in March of 1966. After completing his internship, he spent one year in general practice in India and completing ECFMG examination for Foreign Medical graduates to come to this country. He came to the United States in 1968. He completed his internship in 1969 at St. John’s Riverside Hospital. His first year of residency was in Pediatrics at Jewish Hospital and Medical Center in 1970 and his second year and chief residency third year in Pediatrics from Misercordia Fordham Hospital in 1972, all located in New York City. He then completed his two year teaching Fellowship in Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at the College of Medicine and Dentistry located in Newark, New Jersey. He practiced for two years at Woodbridge State School Hospital, New Jersey, for handicapped children and adults as attending and acting Medical Director before moving to Hill City in 1976 with his wife, Hemalatha and son Dhruva. Since moving to Hill City, he has practiced Family Medicine and Pediatrics. In addition to Board Certification in Pediatrics, Pediatric Hematology and Oncology he is also certified in Family Medicine and Geriatrics.

Then in 1977, there was controversy calling for the resignation of the Administrator and five-man hospital board.  However, in 1978, the long list of serious charges was found to be without basis.  This was determined by the U.S. Attorney, James Bushell, who stated that he felt the hospital problems, in large, were part of a great division in the community.  The charges were dropped and the hospital continued on as before.

Following Bill Pugh’s retirement in 1979, Larry Patterson became the Administrator of the hospital and served for about two years.  Dale Martin came in 1981 and served until 1987.

In 1981 Graham County Hospital began receiving interest from a land sale. John and Angela Poline had made provisions in their will that the hospital would receive moneys from their land sale upon their deaths.  The land sale brought $148,880.  The interest from this is used for the equipment fund.

Many improvements have been made and equipment has been purchased.  In 1983 new Cardiac Monitoring equipment was purchased.  The price tag on this very necessary purchase was $36,161.81.

Jerry Aldridge became the Administrator in March of 1987 and served until 1993.

Many of the hospital rooms have been moved around and offices moved from one place to another to make room for the voluminous records that have become necessary in our modern times.

A birthing room was added to the hospital.  This room was placed in the existing labor room and recovery room following renovation of the area.  The EZA sorority sponsored a telethon to purchase a fetal heart monitor and collected an unbelievable amount of $8,583.17.

Many improvements have been added to the hospital over the years and many new pieces of equipment have been added as well.  A storage building was built in 1986 which was used for record storage.  It was also used for extra patient beds, commodities and miscellaneous supplies.

A $1.7 million  bond issue for an outpatient expansion plan including a new physician clinic was taken to the Graham County voters at a special election on August 24, 1993 and was defeated by a three to one margin, with 1,142 voting “no” and 436 voting “yes” out of a possible 2,147 eligible voters.

In January of 1994, Fred J. Meis was hired as the Administrator and Chief Executive Officer of Graham County Hospital.  The first ever Graham County Hospital Annual Report To Graham County Residents was written and developed by Fred in order to meet the need expressed by community members for more hospital information. Also initiated by Fred in October of 1994, another first for Graham County Hospital, was the creation of a hospital newsletter, which is named the Health-Line.  In 1994 Handicap accessible patient restrooms were added to patient rooms 101-108.

The Hospital Board of Trustees works diligently to keep our hospital operating with adequate and modern equipment, dedicated physicians and medical personnel.  This is no easy task in these times of rigid Federal Regulations and limited reimbursement for hospital services. 

On April 5, 1994 the Hospital Board changed from an appointed board to an elected board.  It should be noted that all  five of the board members who were appointed to the board prior to the election were elected to the new board.

On  September 7, 1994, the Graham County Hospital Board strategic planning retreat was held in Hays.  Those in attendance included: Don Paxson, Phil Clark, Charlotte Parks, Linda Campbell, and Nola Frazey.  This retreat was the result of a suggestion by Fred Meis, CEO, to create a new strategic plan.  Two consulting companies made presentation and BBC was selected due to a prior working relationship with the hospital and knowledge of the community.  

The result of the September 7th retreat was a new strategic plan including a new Mission Statement, five strategic objectives and nine strategic initiatives to be initiated in 1995.

The Graham County Hospital’s Board of Trustees announced the much-needed bond issue and improvements in late July 1995 and made efforts to carry their message to residents of the county through a series of town meetings and appearances at various organizations and clubs.

On September 10th, 1995; 2,053 ballots were mailed to Graham County residents to vote on the passage of a $2 million bond issue to pay the cost of constructing an Emergency Room/Outpatient Service area (not including a previously planned physician clinic) to the hospital.  The ballots were returned on October 9th, 1995 and the count was 879 ballots voting “yes” and 449 ballots voting “no”.  This was an approval margin of nearly 2-1.

In January of 1997 Dr. David Bollig joined the staff at Graham County Hospital and the Graham County Hospital Clinic was opened in the south wing of the hospital. It utilized 5 rooms, which include 2 exam rooms, a waiting reception area, billing/medical records office and Dr. Bollig’s office. The addition of Dr. Bollig added a third M.D. to the Medical staff of the hospital.  Dr. Bollig is Board Certified in Family Practice and practiced Emergency Medicine at Hays Medical Center prior to coming to Hill City.  

The 10,000 plus square foot Emergency/Outpatient addition (ER/OP) ground breaking was held on June 20, 1997.  Phillip Clark, Board Secretary agreed to accept the assignment of project coordinator for the ER/OP project.  Phil’s dedication and determination to oversee the construction of the new addition proved to be invaluable.

After 16 months of construction the ER/OP addition was completed in October of 1997.  The open house was held on October 25, 1997 during a snowstorm.  Fred Meis, CEO noted in his welcoming remarks at the open house that the project started in the rain so that it was probably fitting that it end with a snowstorm.  Don Paxson Chairman of the Board introduced the guest speaker for the open house Don Wilson, the President of the Kansas Hospital Association.  Despite the weather the turnout was larger than expected.  The hospital auxiliaries, board members and staff provided tours of the new addition. 

It should also be noted that the entire board was involved from the inception of the ER/OP project with the town meetings to the finishing touches with the interior decorating and furnishings.  The board members during the planning and construction period were as follow:  Don Paxson, Chairman, Linda Campbell, Vice Chair, Phillip Clark, Secretary, Charlotte Parks, Treasurer and Kay Money. 

 

The ER/OP addition houses the Emergency Room, Radiology, Lab, Physical Therapy, Four Physician Exam Rooms, physician dictation and lounge area, family room, classroom/telemedicine room, registration area and a spacious waiting room.  Under the addition is a 6,000 plus square foot basement which houses the heating and cooling equipment as well as storage rooms and what is currently being used as an indoor walking/fitness area for community residents, thanks in part to a $10,000.00 grant from the Hansen Foundation, local donations and memorials.  

New equipment added at this time includes a Phillips X-Ray Machine with Tomography, Primus Steam Sterilizer, an updated emergency communications system (located in ER), the Secure Care security system and the V-Tel Telemedicine/ITV system.

Also as part of the ER/OP project the Cardiopulmonary/Respiratory Therapy department was relocated to the remodeled previous Radiology area of the hospital. The Operating Room suite was also remodeled with the addition of a new heating and air-conditioning system.

Following the relocation of the departments to the ER/OP addition the other areas in need of relocation and/or remodeling, were Purchasing, Social Services, Education and the Medical Records Office. These projects were completed in March of 1998.

Steve Hickert was appointed to the board on April 20, 1998 to replace Philip Clark who resigned his position after serving five years on the board.

On October 6, 1998 the newly purchased Phillips Tomoscan M Spiral Cat Scanner began operation in the mobile services room in the new addition. In January of 1999 an Abbott Alcyon 3001 Chemistry Analyzer was purchased which replaced the previous analyzer as well as two smaller lab testing machines.

After much deliberation and discussion of the Obstetrics department with the medical staff, the nursing staff and administration, the board decided that due to low volume, the additional state regulations and requirements and the economic impact of less reimbursement due to continuing to provide a service that did not come close to a break even point, that the OB service be dropped effective January of 1999.

As of February 2, 1999 the hospital had approximately 100 employees and many dedicated volunteers that we proudly call the Graham County Hospital Auxiliary ladies.

The persons serving on the Board as of February 2, 1999 are:  Don Paxson, Chairperson, Linda Campbell, Vice Chairperson, Kay Money, Secretary, Charlotte Parks, Treasurer and Steve Hickert, Member.

The one remaining project from the 1997 outpatient addition to the hospital was the in-wall suction system, which was completed in 1999 at a cost of $16,387.30, which was considerably under the original $25,000.00 estimate.

In preparation for the year 2000 and what was termed the Y2K bug affecting computers much time, effort and dollars were expended to update the hospital computer system.  The cost of the Y2K computer and equipment upgrades amounted to $46,795.00.  With the exception of a change of date on a piece of equipment the year 2000 was ushered in with very little in the way of computer related problems indicating that the upgrades were successful. 

The effects of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 were lowering the hospital’s reimbursement for the care provided to Medicare patients.  Additional Medicare cuts not only on the inpatient side but also on the outpatient side gave rise to pursuing the Critical Access Hospital (CAH) designation for Graham County Hospital.  During the September 20, 1999 board meeting Fred Meis, CEO presented detailed information on the CAH designation for hospitals.  Handouts regarding the CAH were given to the board.  Fred Meis estimated that it would take approximately a year to obtain the CAH status including the financial study and application process.  After conducting two favorable financial feasibility studies for year 1998 and 1999 as if Graham County Hospital were a CAH the application process was initiated.  KDHE surveyed the Graham County Hospital on August 14th and 15th 2000.  The Graham County Hospital was officially designated a CAH on September 1, 2000 one year to the month of the initial discussion to become a CAH. This very brief overview of the transition from a Medicare Dependent Hospital to becoming a Critical Access Hospital does not cover all of the meetings with community groups, task force, in depth board and staff studies and discussions.

Due the main hospital building‘s age plumbing repairs were necessary both under the South wing and under the East end of the main addition extending the length of the North wing of the hospital.  New water and sewer lines as well as heating and cooling units were replaced at a total cost of approximately $73,300.00.  Other facility repairs and remodeling in 2000 included the nurse’s utility room, room 113 and new vinyl flooring in the nurse’s station and nurse’s lounge at an approximate cost of $10,400.00.  The roof over the laundry building also needed replacement due to leaks and age of the roof at a cost of approximately $12,200.00. Major equipment purchased in 2000 included the Vitros Chemistry Analyzer System in the amount of $68,150.00.

On March 17, 2000 Graham County Hospital entered into an agreement with Northern Shared Medical Services, Inc. to provide Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) once a week via their mobile unit.

Midyear 2000 Linda Campbell, Vice Chair of the Board, decided to resign her position because of increased work demands. She was replaced by Steve Brandyberry who was appointed by the Graham County Commissioners to represent District #3 and assumed his position at the October 2000 board meeting.

As of January 30, 2001 the hospital continues operation with 100 employees and many dedicated volunteers who staff our hospice and/or are members of the Graham County Hospital Auxiliary.

The persons serving on the Board as of January 30, 2001 are:  Don Paxson, Chairperson, Steve Hickert, Vice Chair, Kay Money, Secretary, Charlotte Parks, Treasurer and Steve Brandyberry, Member. Administrative positions include: Fred J. Meis, CEO, Joy Bretz, CFO, Sherri Brown, DON, Kathy Richmeier, Risk Manager and Stacy Abel, HR Director.

As of December 2002 Steve Hickert resigned his position on the board due to relocation. He was replaced by James Welter who was appointed to the board by the Graham County Commissioners and assumed his position at the February 2003 board meeting.  Kay Money did not seek reelection at the conclusion of  her term.  Dr. P.J. Reddy was elected to the Graham County Hospital Board of Trustees in April of 2003 to fill the vacant position. 

The persons serving on the Board as of August 18, 2003 are: Don Paxson, Chairperson, Steve Brandyberry, Vice Chair, James Welter, Treasurer, Charlotte Parks, Secretary and Dr. P.J. Reddy, Member.  Administrative positions include: Fred J. Meis, CEO, Sherri Brown, DON, Kathy Richmeier, Risk Manager, and Milissa Metcalf, HR Director.      

A.C. Thompson, George Gustafson, R.J. McCauley, Harry Minium, and J.B. Cameron were serving on the Board at the time the hospital opened in 1953.  Those persons who have served on the Board of Directors since 1953 are:  Otto Kobler, Roger Welty, Robert Culley, Edwin Sandlin, Father Leiker, Pat Noone, Russell Pennington, Milford DeYoung, Don Boss, Gene David, Leo Frazey, Nola Frazey, Don Paxson, George Gustafson, Wilfred “Fritz Dreiling, Faye Minium, Charlotte Parks, Linda Campbell, Phillip Clark,  Kay Money, Steve Hickert,  Steve Brandyberry , James Welter and Dr. P.J. Reddy. 

W.D. McDougal was the first hospital administrator in 1953 followed by: Richard Werling, William Pugh, Larry Patterson, Dale Martin, Jerry Aldridge, Marilyn Stockdale Jones (interim) and Fred J. Meis.

Graham County Hospital celebrated their 50th Anniversary with a community-wide celebration on September 6, 2003. During the program past and present employees, board members, administrators and physicians were honored for their important part in the success of Graham County Hospital. Dr. P.J. Reddy was honored for providing our healthcare community with 30 years of service. All who attend were invited to share a meal with us as we celebrated this important milestone in our history. The planning committee for this event was: Charlotte Parks, Kay Money, Becky Perry, Sandra Veh, Fred Meis, Milissa Metcalf and Donella Belleau. A special thanks goes out to the committee and to everyone who helped in planning and assisting with our celebration.

In 2004 the Cardiac Rehab Program was started in the Cardio/Pulmonary department; and a Pyxis System was installed in the Pharmacy, Emergency Room, and Nurses Station.

Graham County Hospital experienced many changes in 2006.  Fred Meis resigned his position as CEO/Administrator in June; Jim Turnbull filled in as an Interim Administrator until Shaun Keef was hired as the new Administrator/CEO in December.  Dr. David Bollig gave his resignation in October.  Handicapped accessible doors were installed in some areas of the new addition.  Members serving on the Board as of December 2006 were: Don Paxson, Steve Brandyberry, Charlotte Parks, Dr. P.J. Reddy, and Melissa Atkins. 

The Graham County Hospital purchased the downtown clinic from the Reddys’ in January of 2007.  Nelida Kibert, PA-C, joined the Reddys’ at the clinic in September.  The Wellness Center expanded with new equipment provided by the Economic Development.  A new CT scanner was purchased; remodeling and renovation took place to accommodate the new purchase.  The members serving on the Board as of December 2007 were: Don Paxson, Steve Brandyberry, Sue Worcester, Melissa Atkins, and Barb Grecian.

Sherri Brown resigned her position as Director of Nursing; Deb Summers was hired as the new Director of Nursing in February of 2008.  Jim Turnbull returned as Interim Administrator in March; Shaun Keef resigned as CEO/Administrator in April due to health reasons; Douglas Newman was hired as the new CEO/Administrator in August.  In July the clinic officially became a Rural Health Clinic.  A digital PACS/CR system was purchased for the Radiology department in July to provide our patients with better x-ray quality. Melissa Atkins was hired as the Chief Financial Officer in October.  The members serving on the Board as of December 2008 were: Don Paxson, Steve Brandyberry, Sue Worcester, Barb Grecian, and Kim Herman.

In 2009 Graham County Hospital had 107 employees on their payroll. On April 7, 2009 the 1% Sales Tax Question Election was approved at 706 to 169 votes. 

New purchases for the year were Urinalysis machine for the lab and an EKG and Treadmill for Cardiac Rehab.  Digital mammography from Hays was contracted to come twice a month to do digital mammograms. 

Remodeling of the exam rooms at the Graham County Hospital Clinic took place in April 2010.  It was decided to purchase an operating system through CPSI of Alabama in April and in August the CPSI financial portion (Phase 1) was up and running. Front Range Nuclear Services from Cheyenne, Wyoming began providing nuclear services in August.

Nelida Kibert, PA-C turned in her resignation as of January 01, 2011.

Jennifer Taylor, PA-C joined the Graham County Hospital Clinic staff in January 2011. Deb Summers, RN, DON, announced her retirement effective May 1, 2011 and Dan Irby, RN was hired for her replacement on May 9, 2011. Jennifer Taylor, PA-C resigned effective September 23, 2011.  CPSI order entry software was implemented in late fall 2011.  A remodeling project for windows and siding in patient rooms 110 and 114 was approved and completed by December.  Dr David Atkins signed a contract of intent.

Laura Nestell, APRN started with the Graham County Hospital Clinic February 6, 2012.  CPSI point of care software was implemented March 5, 2012.  Doug Newman CEO resigned April 6, 2012 and was replace by Melissa Atkins on April 23, 2012.

 

 

 

 

 

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