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WRH approves contract that includes wage increase

WORTHINGTON -- The Worthington Regional Hospital Board of Trustees on Monday approved a contract with Union Local 113 that included a 3 percent wage increase across the board for three years.

According to WRH Director of Ancillary Services Jeff Rotert, the union represents employees in several areas of the hospital, including dietary, housekeeping, medical records, surgical technicians and stock clerks. There are about 65 employees involved, making it the second largest group of unionized employees at WRH. Union members ratified the agreement on Friday, just in time to keep it from going to mediation, which was scheduled for Monday.

The agreement, which will be in force through June 2009, was focused mainly on salary, with only a few small changes in other benefits.

"This is where we hoped it would come in," Rotert commented. "We felt it was reasonable, and they approved it, so I hope they feel it was reasonable as well."

A bid for a new ambulance was awarded to Clarey's Safety Equipment for $61,973.51. According to WRH Administrator Mel Platt, the hospital's policy has been to replace one of its three ambulances every three years, but the purchase of a new vehicle had been put off for the last several years.

"We couldn't delay it any longer," he said.

Bids also were awarded in three categories of the Radiation Oncology Center project. The project's construction manager had recommended that those bids be delayed when the majority of the bids were awarded at a special meeting on July 31, just prior to the project's groundbreaking ceremony. At that time, no bids had been received in two of the categories, and all the bids in the third category had far exceeded the estimated cost.

On Monday, the bid for the steel and decking was awarded to M&N Structures Inc. for $252,000; carpentry, doors/frames/hardware, specialties and joint sealants, Tri-State General Contracting for $208,796; and heating, ventilation and air conditioning to C.W. Sutter and Sons for approximately $341,000. The last bid still greatly exceeded the original budget estimate of $195,000, but the contractor voluntarily dropped it by more than $20,000.

Board members also heard a report on charity care and procedures for collecting bad debts as was mandated by an agreement made with the Minnesota Attorney General a year ago. They also reviewed and approved the hospital's policies in accordance with the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act.

During the Finance Committee portion of the meeting, WRH financial officer Bruce Viessman reported that the trend toward decreased inpatient volume and increased outpatient volume had continued in July. In fact, Viessman said the inpatient volume last month was "probably the least I've seen in patient days in the 18 years I've been here."

For the month, total patient revenue was under budget by $229,283. Inpatient volume was under budget by $624,941, while outpatient revenue was over budget by $333,362, and the behavioral health unit revenue was over budget by $93,103. Total operating expenses were under budget by $107,245 (6 percent). WRH experienced a loss from operations of $113,809 for the month, compared to a budget of $75,642.

For the year to date through July, net operating revenue is $570,771 (4 percent) below budget, and expenses are $294,162 (2 percent) below budget. Income from operations is $252,955, compared to a budget of $529,564. Excess revenue above expenses is $237,852, compared to a budget of $566,629.

The trustees are next scheduled to meet on Sept. 18.

Beth Rickers

Beth Rickers is the veteran in the newspaper staff with 25 years as the Daily Globe's Features Editor. Interests include cooking, traveling and beer tasting and making with her home-brewing husband, Bryan. She writes an Area Voices blog called Lagniappe, which is a Creole term that means "a little something extra." It can be found at  

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