Governor Branstad visits Keokuk to celebrate hospital funding
KEOKUK, Ia. (WGEM) -
Keokuk Area Hospital has struggled financially to keep its doors open for years.
But a slow turnaround is about to get a fast infusion of cash thanks to a statewide effort that included Governor Terry Branstad.
House bill 2460 will give Keokuk Area Hospital $5 million in economic development loans. That's money officials say will help significantly with the turnaround efforts.
While the tone of Governor Branstad's visit to Keokuk Area Hospital Friday afternoon was celebratory, hospital consultant Duane Fitch says the $5 million state loan will continue to help them dig out of a financial hole.
"We're going to retire some of the legacy debt that the hospital has accumulated over the past couple of years," Fitch said.
A debt that Fitch says has piled up in part because of a lack of Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements.
"Last year we were underreimbursed on our cost to service Medicare and Medicaid by about $3 million so we're going to be working to try and remedy that with the appropriate stake holders," Fitch said.
While Fitch wouldn't elaborate on how they would try and tackle the reimbursement problem, he says it's a top priority.
Governor Branstad says after the hospital approached him about its financial problems, he made the decision to help keep it afloat.
"We wanted to save this hospital," Branstad said. "It's critically important to the Keokuk area. They came to me to tell me all the things they've done to turn things around and get their financial house in order."
Fitch says the hospital will receive the funding in July. He says besides paying down the debt, they plan on using the money to buy clinical equipment and upgrade its IT platform.