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by Brenda Grose
From one local pharmacy to the possibility of three. That was the main topic of discussion as Ringgold County Hospital’s board of trustees met for their regular monthly meeting, Monday, March 9.
Ringgold Holdings, LLC, a group of community members including Matt Routh, Wiley Main, Dennis Elliott, Burt Murphy, Caleb Baker and Shane Bishop led the discussion before the board. Main, spokesman for the group, outlined the group’s incentives and goals, stating “we are a task force of volunteers, parents dedicated to raising our families here and interested in revitalizing downtown Mount Ayr.”
Their goals include meeting specific community need, bringing tax dollars back to the community and keeping them in Ringgold County and bringing more jobs and more families to Mount Ayr. They envision building on these community goals to keep Mount Ayr and Ringgold County “thriving and surviving.” As a task force, the group has spent months determining ways to revitalize the town in light of recent store closings and have identified immediate and long range need. Main and others indicated one immediate need the group has specifically addressed is the need for a brick and mortar full retail pharmacy including health and beauty items. Secondly, this group sees a need for more grocery options. Ultimately their end goal would be to house all of these retail items under one roof.
Understanding the timeliness of immediate needs, the group has zoned in on providing a retail pharmacy first, potentially in a temporary location. To that end, Ringgold Holdings, LLC has been in discussion with Pharmagroup, LLC and has recently partnered with this company to provide management and investment in a retail pharmacy. Main stated they believe a “downtown pharmacy location will best serve the community.” After learning that RCH has also invested time and money into the addition of a retail pharmacy, the group felt it important to bring their project to the RCH board of trustees in the interest of transparency and with the hope of being able to come together with a solution to best serve the community.
Main continued, saying Ringgold Holdings, LLC has already been offered a temporary site to set up the retail pharmacy, and Matt Routh added, “Everything is basically in place except legally binding contracts. There are details left to be decided, but we feel we can move fairly quick and feel confident we are very close to having a pharmacy up and running in the upcoming months.”
Gordon Winkler, hospital administrator, who had been in conversation recently with Routh, was unable to attend the meeting due to illness. RCH board president Kathy Braby responded to the group stating RCH has been working with Invision Architects and Blue Stone Engineering on adding a retail pharmacy project to the existing hospital pharmacy remodel along with other hospital additions and service expansions. The hospital will finalize all documents next week. A pharmacy up and running on site could be possible by the end of the summer. Braby introduced Jeff Longstaff of Medicap Pharmacy in Creston as the hospital’s retail pharmacy partner. Additionally, Braby explained time and money had been spent toward the addition of a retail pharmacy which would all have to be taken into account moving forward.
As it is, both Ringgold Holdings, LLC and Ringgold County Hospital’s board of trustees along with hospital administrator Gordon Winkler have identified a need for a brick and mortar retail pharmacy, sooner rather than later. Both entities have been independently working toward that goal.
Ending the conversation both groups reiterated mutual interest in providing a new retail pharmacy location in Mount Ayr. Braby stated the board would continue discussion on how to best move forward in light of the community group’s information.
Routh concluded, “we are looking for a win-win for everyone.”
In other hospital business heard by the board:
• Chief financial officer Missy Walter presented income statements which showed patient revenue below budget for the month, expenses up mostly due to employee health benefit payments and a year to date break even of $8,200 in profit.
• Service excellence programs have been reorganized and will focus on two areas-employee recognition and manager accountability.
• IT services have been revamped from owning to contracted service which will eliminate big investment dollars for high ticket items such as servers and other equipment.
• Dr. Matt Raeker, ophthalmologist, will begin seeing patients in the visiting physicians clinic on May 6 and will begin cataract surgeries in June.