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      Kimball, NE 69145

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      KHS ranked among nation’s top critical access hospitals

      Top 100 Hospitals

      Kimball Health Services has been ranked among the top 100 critical access hospitals in the nation.

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      Kimball Health Services has been ranked among the top 100 critical access hospitals in the nation.

      The ranking is compiled by the Chartis Center for Rural Health and based upon the results of the Chartis Rural Hospital Performance Index, the industry standard for assessing and benchmarking rural and critical access hospital performance. Hospitals recognized as a top 100 facility had one of the 100 highest overall scores among 1,300 critical access hospitals nationally. Kimball Health Services was ranked in the 93rd percentile nationwide, receiving its highest marks in the areas of financial stability, outpatient market share and charges for services.

      The new ranking demonstrates the hospital’s long standing commitment to providing exceptional and affordable healthcare to the community, said Ken Hunter, CEO at Kimball Health Services.

      “We are incredibly honored to be named one of the top rural hospitals in the country,” Hunter said. “Earning this distinction is a testament to the incredible care provided by the KHS team. Their dedication is truly unwavering and to have it recognized on a national level is remarkable. It demonstrates KHS’s steadfast commitment to providing the best healthcare possible to our community while maintaining an efficient, effective and innovative organization.”

      Based entirely on publicly available data, the Chartis Rural Hospital Performance Index uses 36 independent indicators and assesses performance across eight pillars of performance that span market, value and finance-based categories. The data and is updated three times per year.

      “This program helps us identify and implement strategies for delivering higher quality care and better outcomes for our patients,” said Laura Bateman, director of Quality and Staff Development at KHS. “Our patients and community are our top priority, and we are committed to our mission of providing patient-centered healthcare with excellence in quality, accessibility and patient experience.”

      The index is the foundation for many of rural healthcare’s most prominent awards such as the Top 100 Critical Access Hospitals and is used by organizations such as the National Rural Health Association (NRHA) in support of its advocacy and legislative initiatives.

       


      Employee of the YearHospital CFO is KHS Employee of the Year

      Managing the ever-changing world of healthcare finance can be a real challenge. It’s a complex blending of accounting and financial management to ensure operational effectiveness of a healthcare facility and reduce costs.

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      Managing the ever-changing world of healthcare finance can be a real challenge. It’s a complex blending of accounting and financial management to ensure operational effectiveness of a healthcare facility and reduce costs.

      In today’s healthcare environment, financial realities play an important role in many, if not most, decisions. Throw in recent changes in health insurance, staffing, funding and reporting brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, and making those decisions becomes a real balancing act.

      But it’s a balancing act that Cassie Gasseling, chief financial officer at Kimball Health Services, has embraced and excelled with. In recognition of her efforts, her peers have chosen her as the 2021 KHS Employee of the Year.

      Working with CEO Ken Hunter, Gasseling and her team have completely revamped the hospital’s revenue cycle, which is the process of tracking revenue from patients from their initial appointment or encounter to when the clinic or hospital is fully paid for the services provided. The move has helped KHS significantly decrease its accounts receivable, a significant indicator of a hospital’s overall financial health.

      “Cassie has worked tirelessly to fix the revenue cycle, obtain the financial package for the new hospital and maximize the benefits of the Cares Act,” Hunter said. “Cassie is one of our most productive employees and a joy to work with.”

      A former member of the finance department at Cabela’s, Gasseling was hired as controller at KHS in June of 2018 and became the hospital’s CFO in September of 2019.

      “I had several years of experience in finance and accounting prior to joining KHS, but the healthcare industry was new to me,” Gasseling said. “Learning the ins and outs and terminology of insurance companies and how the entire revenue cycle works has been the biggest challenge. Coming into the position, we had numerous challenges within our revenue cycle pertaining to the billing and collecting. The most challenging, yet most rewarding, part of my job has been to help my team get these processes straightened out.”

      The balancing act doesn’t end there. Besides her duties at the hospital, Gasseling, her husband Tim and sons Landon, 13 and Keegan, 10, spend many weekends on the road pursuing the family’s passion for quarter midget car racing.

      Trophies and banners are everywhere in the boys’ bedroom, living room and basement of their home in Potter, attesting to their success in the sport. Landon and Keegan are the only quarter midget racers in the state of the Nebraska. In a normal year, the family goes to races mainly in Colorado every weekend from April to September and most recently competed at the USAC.25 Nationals in Las Vegas.

      On the weekdays, however, Gasseling said she enjoys using her skills to make a difference in people’s lives and the care they receive to stay healthy.

      “The most enjoyable part about being at KHS is the people I get to work with on a daily basis,” she said. “I recently came from the corporate world. Being able to work in a small community with a group of employees that are like family and look out for one another while providing great care and service to our patients has been a great change for me.”

      Kimball Hospital Announces Major Regional Fundraising Campaign

      Kimball Health Services (KHS) leadership on Thursday, Jan. 13, announced a $2.2 million fundraising campaign to complete funding for a new hospital in Kimball opening in the fall of 2023.

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      Kimball Health Services (KHS) leadership on Thursday, Jan. 13, announced a $2.2 million fundraising campaign to complete funding for a new hospital in Kimball opening in the fall of 2023.

      Standing on the site where the hospital will be constructed, officials announced a lead gift of $500,000 from Bonnie Risk to kick off the fundraising campaign. Her contribution brings the private gifts committed to $1.5 million.

      Risk has been a longtime advocate for Kimball Health Services and is a member of the Kimball Hospital Foundation. “In all its simplicity, gratitude and blessings, it is an honor to give back to the community of Kimball for everything the community has given to the Risk family. I can only be of example and lead by example so that others will follow suit for the sake of Kimball’s bright future,” Risk said.

      Jim Cederburg leads the “Advancing Healthcare for Our Communities” campaign. “It is pleasing to witness the widespread support for a new hospital in our service area,” Cederburg said. “Bonnie’s gift is significant and has motivated other donors to make large gifts. We have several people who have pledged to support the new hospital and have selected naming opportunities ranging from a concrete bench--which will be part of the landscaping--to the lobby. To date, these naming opportunities have ranged from $5,000 to $500,000. In fact, we have a minor dilemma because all of the $100,000 naming opportunities have been spoken for. We will be offering additional $100,000 naming opportunities soon.”

      Risk, KHS Medical Director Dr. James Broomfield and Joel Wiens have agreed to serve as honorary chairs for the campaign. Additional members of the campaign committee include: Sharon King-Baker, Shane Hays, Kara Fornstrom, Dave Haack, Tim Nolting, Stephanie Pedersen, Lindsay Forepaugh and Shavonne Singleton.

      Ken Hunter, KHS Chief Executive Officer, said expanding KHS’s ability to offer critical access care services in the Kimball area will be essential for the maintenance and growth of the entire area. “Approximately 72 years ago, the citizens of Kimball invested in a hospital and just look at the benefits we have reaped,” Hunter said. “Great doctors like Dr. Plate, Dr. Shamburg and Dr. Broomfield and nurses like Joyce Sorensen, Judy Heilbrun and Elise Berger have delivered thousands of babies and saved countless lives.

      “As Warren Buffet once said, ‘Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.’ Times may have changed; however, Buffett’s quote is just as true today as it was when our Kimball ancestors invested in our hospital 72 years ago. So plant a tree and help us build this new hospital by contributing to the Kimball Hospital Foundation,” Hunter said.

      Paul Whiting, Senior Vice President of Facilities Engineering for Clean Harbors Environmental Services agrees with Hunter. “We believe the availability of quality preventative and emergency healthcare in a community is one of the cornerstones to attracting and retaining a strong workforce,” Whiting said in a statement. “Likewise, we understand a key to attracting and retaining a skilled medical staff locally is providing a quality facility and equipment. The renovation and expansion plans the Kimball Hospital Foundation has shared with us will make this hospital and health resources very positive attributes for new employees contemplating a move to the area, particularly if they come from a more urban setting. Thus, we were more than happy to support this forward thinking project financially as we see it as not only as very beneficial to our current employees but a key to attracting and maintaining the workforce growth the community will need over the next several years.”

      Cederburg commended the KHS doctors, nurses and other staff members who have provided input for the design of the facilities that include new emergency rooms, clinic exam rooms, operating rooms, physical and occupational therapy spaces and patient rooms.

      “We look forward to a new hospital that is triple in size compared to our present 70-year-old facility. It will provide the space needed to enhance healthcare for our communities by providing additional services in a facility designed to meet our healthcare needs,” stated Cederburg.

      The new facility will provide up-to-date, private patient areas, as well as spaces that are more functional and attractive for the medical and support staff members. It will also provide space to bring additional specialized medical services. The new facility will accommodate visiting specialists for mammography, cardiac rehab, chemotherapy infusions, orthopedic procedures, MRI services and expanded surgical options.

      Kerry Ferguson, Director of Community Relations and Executive Director of the Foundation, said the Kimball area’s residents and businesses recognize the need for this facility. “This project directly impacts our quality of life and people recognize that their gifts will help us provide the best care possible close to home,” Ferguson said. “KHS supports itself thru its own profits and donations from the Foundation. The Advancing Healthcare for Our Communities campaign will require contributions of all sizes to meet our goal.”

      Construction is estimated to begin in May on the nearly 60,000 square foot hospital on what was the West Elementary School grounds. According to Hunter, initial estimates put the cost of the project at over $32 million, although that figure has risen with increasing costs of materials and services and is expected to put the final price tag at over $40 million.

      The project is being financed with a 40-year U.S. Department of Agriculture loan, $6.4 million in 25-year bond funding which is expected to be repaid with hospital revenues, and funds raised in the capital campaign. Area banks are assisting with bond anticipation notes to fund the construction. While the hospital is governed by the Kimball County Board of Commissioners, Cederburg said no tax funding should be needed to pay off the loan and bonds. In addition, the hospital is seeking a USDA Emergency Rural Healthcare Grant to improve the hospital’s COVID-19 and other infection response capabilities, which include modernized air handling systems, isolation rooms and increased physical distancing in patient waiting areas.

      KHS serves more than 11,000 people in the Nebraska Panhandle, northeastern Colorado and southeastern Wyoming. In the year ending July 2020, it served more than 3,500 patients in the hospital and more than 4,650 in its Kimball and Pine Bluffs, Wyo. clinics. In the decade ending in 2020, KHS saw significant service increases including:

      • 65 percent increase in specialty clinic visits
      • 10 percent increase in rural health clinic visits
      • 13 percent increase in rehab services
      • 50 percent increase in imaging services
      • 24 percent increase in hospital discharges
      • 10 percent increase in rural health clinic visits
      • Surgeries increased from 16 to 303 in 3 years

      Planning for New Hospital Continues

      Architects and construction contractors have been meeting with KHS staff to gather input on the proposed design of several rooms, including a sample patient room, clinic exam room, emergency room, operating room and others. The mock walls, cabinets and other room features are easily movable corrugated platic.
       

      Hospital to Receive USDA Loan for New Facility

      At their meeting on Monday, the Kimball Health Services Board of Trustees announced receiving approval of a $23.4 million direct loan through the US Department of Agriculture’s Community Facilities Direct Loan Program, a crucial first stage in securing financing for the estimated $32 million facility. At their meeting on Monday, the Kimball Health Services Board of Trustees announced receiving approval of a $23.4 million direct loan through the US Department of Agriculture’s Community Facilities Direct Loan Program, a crucial first stage in securing financing for the estimated $32 million facility.

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      At their meeting on Monday, the Kimball Health Services Board of Trustees announced receiving approval of a $23.4 million direct loan through the US Department of Agriculture’s Community Facilities Direct Loan Program, a crucial first stage in securing financing for the estimated $32 million facility. At their meeting on Monday, the Kimball Health Services Board of Trustees announced receiving approval of a $23.4 million direct loan through the US Department of Agriculture’s Community Facilities Direct Loan Program, a crucial first stage in securing financing for the estimated $32 million facility.

      “We were thrilled to get that phone call from the USDA office in North Platte that the national office in Washington had approved.” said Ken Hunter, CEO at Kimball Health Services. “The most important step was the USDA loan approval and we are very confident that construction will begin in early fall.”

      “We’re on the verge of being able to not only replace a 70-year-old hospital that has served us well, but allows us virtually no space to grow to meet current demand or meet an ever increasing standard of care,” he added.

      Over the last five years, demand for services has been on the rise, Hunter explained. “During that time, hospital discharges increased 24 percent, specialty clinic visits increased 65 percent, imaging services increased by 50 percent and surgeries increased from 16 in 2016 to 303 in 2019. Our 1950s facility wasn’t designed for today’s volumes or patient care needs.”

      The new facility will be located at the current KHS North Campus. It will include an 18,157 square foot renovation of the former West Elementary School building, an 1,811 square foot basement renovation and the construction of a new single-story, 40,358 square foot hospital attached just east of the current structure.

      “We are delighted to have completed the rigorous USDA testing and review process and qualify for a long-term fixed interest rate USDA loan,” said Jim Cederburg, chairman of the KHS Board of Trustees. “We are proud that we have not required any taxpayer support in the past 30 years, and endeavor to continue to provide healthcare independently. The new hospital will provide the physical space needed to offer additional high-tech services in a more private environment to enhance healthcare for the communities we serve.”

      While the USDA loan approval is an important first step, the project’s finance package also includes a $6.4 million general obligation revenue bond that must be approved by the county commissioners and a $2.2 million capital fundraising campaign by the Kimball Hospital Foundation.

      An independent financial feasibility study, termed as “exhaustive” by Hunter, determined that “sufficient funds could be generated to meet Kimball Health Services’ operating expenses, working capital needs and debt service requirements associated with the new facility.”

      Central to the project’s success is the fact that critical access hospitals such as KHS are reimbursed by Medicare for costs incurred for both inpatient and outpatient services, including allowable costs such as depreciation and interest related to building projects. “This means Medicare can be expected to reimburse KHS for more than half of the project cost,” Hunter said.

      Key improvements to the new hospital will include larger inpatient rooms and bathrooms to meet current federal standards; widened major corridors; the addition of in-house MRI and CT scanner services; additional patient services such as mammography, cardiac rehabilitation, chemotherapy infusions, orthopedic procedures and expanded surgical options; an updated surgical suite and more space for preoperative and postoperative procedures; an expanded physical therapy department including a walking track and kitchen for home-based activity therapy; an expanded ER department, additional exam room and a covered ambulance bay; a helipad and numerous other improvements.

      At their regular meeting in April, the board of trustees selected Haselden Construction of Centennial, Colo. from among three competing general contractors. Their prior work includes expansion and renovation projects for UC Health in Fort Collins, Poudre Valley Hospital, Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, Ivinson Memorial Hospital in Laramie, Pioneer Medical Center in Meeker, Colo. and many others. Haselden Construction is hosting a meet and greet event for prospective area subcontractors this Friday, 4 to 6 pm at the Sage Brush in Kimball.

      For more information on the project click HERE

      Photo - Ken Hunter, CEO and members of the KHS Senior Staff review plans for a new hospital facility.

      Meeting of the Minds

      Todd Dill, preconstruction manager with Haselden Construction of Centennial, Colo., reviews construction details and timelines for the proposed new hospital facility in Kimball with architect Shane Labenz of CMBA Architects of Grand Island and the KHS Board of Trustees.

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      Todd Dill, preconstruction manager with Haselden Construction of Centennial, Colo., reviews construction details and timelines for the proposed new hospital facility in Kimball with architect Shane Labenz of CMBA Architects of Grand Island and the KHS Board of Trustees. Pending approval of a $23.4 million direct loan from USDA now under review, construction of the new hospital on the former West Elementary School playground could begin as early as March, 2022. It would include a new single-story, 40,358 square foot hospital, an 18,157 square foot renovation of the former school building and a 1,811 square foot renovation of its basement. At their regular meeting in April, the board of trustees selected Haselden Construction from among three competing general contractors. KHS officials expect answer on its USDA loan application within a few weeks. ‚Äč

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