N. Lincoln Hospital District Board lays it on the line about future medical care in north county area…
North Lincoln Hospital District Board member Terry Buggenhagen gave it to them straight last night at the Lincoln City City Council meeting. He said the current North Lincoln Hospital has seen better days and needs to be replaced – from the ground up.
Buggenhagen said the hospital, which is now fifty years old is less and less able to meet the medical needs of north county citizens, especially those that need specialized care.
Buggenhagen told the council that the hospital district ran a public survey on whether voters would support a substantial property tax increase to build a new hospital. He said the survey showed a bond issue would likely fail.
Buggenhagen said the foundation board then turned to Samaritan Health Services and asked how they might create a way forward on a news hospital. He said Samaritan is offering to take ownership of the hospital district lands and buildings, add it to Samaritan’s asset portfolio and build a new North Lincoln Hospital themselves. That would leave the hospital board to continue on as an additional fundraiser arm for Samaritan – offering capital improvements to the new hospital over time and possibly sponsor new services for those suffering from addictions and other mental health issues.
Samaritan and the board are now commissioning a design for the new hospital and depending on how that goes, construction of the new hospital could begin in 2018. Buggenhagen said they will conduct public outreach meetings with north county citizens to understand their current and future medical needs. And of course the hospital has a pretty good understanding of what will be a dominant direction for that care – mostly aimed at the coast’s aging population. Therefore orthopedics, urology and general surgery will be strongly represented in the design and operations of the new hospital.
Chief Operations Officer Leslie Ogden of Samaritan Health Services told the council that the new hospital will likely have fewer beds because of medical breakthroughs that let many patients go home after complicated procedures the very same the day. So instead of having a 25 bed hospital, it may drop to 15 to 20. She said while the immediate future will focus on older folks living in the area the hospital would certainly continue to serve the younger set with full birthing services, preventative health care, and medium level trauma care.
Buggenhaggen said the next step is to have hospital district properties evaluated and appraised to determine a likely deal with Samaritan Health Services. But, again, barring any unforeseen problems, Buggenhaggen said the new hospital could be under construction starting in 2018 – and he adds – at no extra cost to north county taxpayers – a deal that south county taxpayers wish they could have enjoyed rather than agreeing to a hefty property tax bill increase triggered by their YES vote on a new hospital bond measure last May.
Buggenhaggen told the city council that a new hospital will attract more doctors, especially specialty doctors and medical professionals to the coast and thereby help boost the local economy.