Lab director honored

Joyce Gelhaus, laboratory director for Van Diest Medical Center, is retiring at the end of the month and was honored by the hospital’s board of trustees Tuesday night during its regular session.

Gelhaus began her career in the lab as a technologist at the hospital in 1974. She moved into the assistant lab director duties in July 1978 and was named director of the department in December 1995.

“During her tenure with Hamilton County Public Hospital and Van Diest Medical Center, Joyce has worked 84,458 hours in her 38 years, four months on the job – that’s currently the longest tenured employee at the hospital,” said board Chairman Don Bottorff.

“She shared with human resources and other staff members that she had intended to work here for a couple of years to get some experience and then move on,” he said. “I guess that didn’t happen.

“We’ve been fortunate that she didn’t move on; but rather, found her place to be here with us at our hospital,” he said.

Bottorff presented an engraved plaque to Gelhaus and thanked her for her years of service and commitment to the hospital.

Bottorff also congratulated Gelhaus on her work with the Relay for Life. She served as an honorary chairman for the event in 2012.

Gelhaus told the board she planned to stay in the community and enjoyed her years with the hospital.

“It was a great place to work, doing what I loved to do,” she said.

Tax asking approved

A public hearing on the proposed increase in the hospital’s tax asking was held with no written or oral comments or objections. At its January meeting, the board approved a recommendation by the finance committee to increase the hospital’s tax asking from $850,000 to $1.6 million. In January, Chief Financial Officer Alice Heinrichs said reasons for the increase include escalating charity care cases, an increase in IPERS, and decreasing third payer payments.

“We’ve been experiencing and continue to experience escalating charity care and uncollectible accounts,” Heinrichs said in January. “Currently through this year, we’re projecting to have close to $800,000 in charity care, and that compares to $589,224 last year. That’s an increase of $214,625.”

The total of those three items – an increase in charity cases and uncollectible accounts, a hike in IPERS payments and decreased payer payments – was estimated to be $939,698.

The trustees voted unanimously to approve the increased tax asking.

Capital requests

Heinrichs presented the two capital equipment requests for the month of March. The items, two pediatric cribs and a new surgical table, totaled $43,936. She said the items were budgeted and came in under budget.

The board also went into closed session as allowed under Iowa Code Chapter 21.5 1(a) and 21.5 1(c).