Clinic will close

The Van Diest Medical Center Board of Trustees voted to close the Dayton Clinic following a closed session meeting on the matter Tuesday night.

The clinic, which opened last summer and was operated by VDMC, was facing a projected $70,000 annual loss. Hospital officials said loss was due in part to the fact there had been no substantial growth in combined inpatient and outpatient services at VDMC from Dayton since the clinic had opened. Officials said data shows that most of the Dayton patients are going either to Fort Dodge or Ames for those services.

Trustee board chairman Carroll Ose said that the clinic will have a 90-day window before its doors are closed. He said that if there were some dramatic changes in the number of Dayton Clinic patients utilizing the hospital for the inpatient and outpatient services, the board could possibly revisit the closing.

“The biggest thing is, there is another clinic just eight miles away in Stratford that those folks in Dayton could us,” Ose said.

He said a real effort would be made to make use of the clinic’s staff somewhere in the VDMC system. Currently, there is a nurse practitioner and a nurse seeing patients at the Dayton Clinic.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the trustees heard from Dayton Mayor Richard Travis and Councilwoman Beth Wickwire, both of whom pledged the community’s support to keeping the clinic open.

“We’ve seen some real growth and some good things there. I just want you to know that the city of Dayton is ready to further assist with that,” Wickwire said.

Travis said he learned about the possible board action only recently. “In the short time that we have known about this, we’ve managed to get the community group together and brainstorm how we can help not only the clinic but the hospital,” he said.

Van Diest Medical Center, opened in 2010, is experiencing some transition. CEO Bob Mason resigned his position in early January and Lori Rathbun, interim CEO was brought in a short time later. She has implemented a gap mitigation plan to cut costs and generate revenue to help offset an anticipated $3 million loss for VDMC.

“I think everyone realizes we need to make some changes,” Ose said. “People know it’s coming and we can’t apologize for our efforts.”