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Hospital strengthens relationship with Norton

Hospital strengthens relationship with Norton
Hospital strengthens relationship with Norton
Norton Healthcare CEO Steve Williams said Norton can provide Harrison County Hospital with expert clinical and administrative support, 'but we will not intrude.' (Photo by Randy West)

Harrison County residents can expect to see a greater, more visible relationship between Harrison County Hospital and Norton Healthcare now that the two have entered into a new contractual arrangement.
At the same time, Harrison County Hospital will retain complete local ownership and local control.
‘We really believe local organizations should determine their own destiny,’ said Norton’s president and chief executive officer, Stephen A. Williams, during an announcement yesterday of the new arrangement in the HCH board room in Corydon. ‘We can provide support ‘ both administratively and clinically ‘ while the local board can still be in control.’
The arrangement will allow Norton Healthcare, a $1 billion regional organization, to be part of the Harrison County community, Williams said, ‘but not intrude on the local control of the hospital.’
Williams said Norton’s arrangement with HCH, other than a $2,500 monthly stipend from HCH, is to provide clinical support on a day-to-day basis which in turn will foster mutual respect and support between the medical staffs in Louisville and Corydon.
Surgical procedures and/or treatment would continue to be provided locally, when possible, and services would be expanded because the vast resources of Norton Healthcare would be readily available, Williams said.
Otherwise, referrals to Norton would be more likely, he said.
‘It’s a good fit for us,’ said Steve Taylor, executive director of HCH for 15 years. ‘We can continue as a community-based, full -service hospital while enjoying full clinical support from Norton.’
Plans for a new hospital west of Corydon, either the design or location, will not change, but the new facility will allow expanded patient services and procedures here, Taylor said.
‘Patients won’t have to travel to Louisville as often; more can be done here, and that’s a good thing,’ he said. ‘That’s what a community hospital is all about.’
Norton is ‘totally’ supportive of plans for a new, expanded facility next to I-64 and the scope of the project, said Williams.
‘Frankly, we were very impressed,’ he said. ‘We think the hospital board has done its homework.’
Williams noted that HCH is among very few rural hospitals that are financially sound today.
‘There’s some rather bleak statistics out there,’ he said. ‘ The majority of small hospitals across the country are now losing money.
He added: ‘This hospital is very well managed and very well governed, and it has an outstanding medical staff.’
‘The future bodes well for Harrison County in terms of health care.’
Williams sees no reason for outside financial investment in the new facility.
‘If there is an investment from outside, then the local hospital will give up some control,’ Williams said. ‘It is Norton’s view that you don’t have to and you shouldn’t give up any control to the outside.’
More than a year ago, the hospital announced plans to construct an estimated $33 million, two-story facility and medical office complex northwest of Corydon, between Corydon-Ramsey Road and S.R. 337.
Jewish Hospital Health Care Services had proposed investing in the project as a partner in return for 49 percent interest. That proposal has never been viewed favorably by the hospital board.
Hospital board members propose paying half the costs through patient revenue and the balance from county coffers.
The board hopes that financial backing will come from the $24 million expected to be received yearly in riverboat revenue. The board also thinks that’s a commitment the hospital deserves in light of its past performance.
Parvin Baumgart, the long-time president of the HCH board, pointed out that the county’s total financial contribution to the present, 53-year-old facility has been less than $2 million.
For Harrison County to contribute financially to the new building project would be only fair, said Baumgart, who has served on the hospital board since 1965.
‘We’re asking for them to give back some of what we have given them,’ Baumgart said.
The hospital has an active medical staff of 27, a total payroll of more than $13 million a year, and employs more than 400 people, Taylor said.
Taylor said the hospital is currently deciding which of three available options it should use to resolve the need for sewage treatment services at the construction site and is also examining the possibility of obtaining federal dollars for the building project.
Still, he said, ‘Probably the best way to go would be as originally planned.
‘If everything goes well, we would like to move earth yet this year.’