HADH tours Oklahoma health complex

Ray Scherer

A group of Hermann Area District Hospital officials recently toured the facilities of an Oklahoma health group interested in a lease agreement to operate HADH.

A report on the group's mid-December visit to Oklahoma City-based AVEM Health Partners was given at the hospital board of directors Dec. 20 regular meeting. No decisions have been made on the AVEM proposal for taking over operations at the Hermann hospital.

Board President Dale Ridder said the proposal is being considered in order to continue providing quality healthcare to Hermann area residents. He said AVEM has three hospitals in Oklahoma, with headquarters in Oklahoma City. He said the company's mission and business plan both mirror what is already being done by HADH.

"The problem is, we have no cash, and they do," said Ridder. "All indications are they are in it for the long haul."

He further explained the potential of working with the Oklahoma firm.

"It would be a lease and not a sale," Ridder said at the board meeting. "The district would remain intact....Our role would be to own the building and continue with the tax base....Their intent would be to make major improvements to the building."

A long-term lease would be most likely for Hermann, if a deal can be arranged in 2022. It's currently anticipated that a more in-depth appraisal of the group's interest in Hermann will be forthcoming sometime in the first quarter of the new year, perhaps during February.

He described the group's observations and impressions from the visit.

"Their hospitals are full. The activity is intense. They have a waiting list of patients," said Ridder. "It continues to be a work in progress for them. I don't think it would be a change overnight for us."

Board Vice President Janet LaBoube also took the trip.

"They build community awareness, community involvement," she said. 

Hospital Administrator Dan McKinney said it's thought that AVEM could possibly assist HADH in upgrading staff skills. 

"They're extremely strong on staff development," Ridder said. "They are adequately staffed, with growth in mind."

It was noted on the visit that the company does not have a home health component. Yet it's believed that service would continue in Hermann. Growth of the hospital auxiliary into the community is another activity that may be enabled. Each of the Oklahoma hospitals has its own quality control manager.

"It's hard to find negatives in terms of what we saw," said Ridder of the visit. "They (AVEM) were impressed with the town (Hermann)."