Union General talks parking expansion during monthly board meeting

Business, News

BLAIRSVILLE, Ga. – Chief Executive Officer of Union General Hospital Lewis Kelley recommended to the hospital’s Board of Directors at their monthly meeting Tuesday, Nov. 28, to proceed with plans to expand parking at its Blairsville facility.

Kelley explained the hospital owns a forested strip of a land adjacent to Union General that, if cleared, would allow for approximately 50 more parking spaces. The lot, located just across Deep South Farm Road, would be used for employee parking and would make available more spaces in its main lot for patients and visitors to the hospital.

“We’re in desperate need of parking,” Kelley told the board. “If you come over here on some of our days, every piece of parking we have is full.”

Kelley stated about 50 trees would need to be cut and cleared, and the bid cost for site development is approximately $49,600. The CEO further explained paving for the lot would not be able to completed until spring; however, prior to the paving, the lot could be graveled to allow for sooner use. Kelley also stated the hospital would speak with Union County Sole Commissioner Lamar Paris about the possibility of adding a crosswalk with a caution light to provide employees safe crossing from the lot.

Though the amount for the project is under Kelley’s $50,000 spending limit, the CEO asked the board to approve the expenditure, which was approved unanimously.

Kelley also brought to the board’s attention the need to replace a piece of ear nose and throat (ENT) equipment for the operating room that failed two weeks prior to the meeting. According to Kelley, hospital officials are evaluating the situation and taking bids to replace the equipment. The equipment, Kelley stated, would cost between $190,000 to $225,000. Currently, the hospital is using a piece of equipment on loan from a private company until a permanent replacement can be attained, according to Kelley.

Also during the meeting, Julia Barnett, chief nursing officer for Union General, announced the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) gave the hospital a five-star rating for the quarter in its latest quality measures rating. “I just want you all to understand how hard that all of our folks have worked to get to a five-star rating,” Barnett said.

In addition, Chatuge Regional Hospital in Hiawassee received a four-star rating from CMS.

The board also approved the hospital’s updated Organizational Plan for Patient Care Services, which, according to Barnett, is a CMS required document that outlines and explains all of Union General’s patient services and is updated annually.

Chief Financial Officer Nick Townsend delivered the monthly financial statement and reported Union General has netted $2.5 million this fiscal year to date in comparison to $3.6 million this time last fiscal year. Rising healthcare and health insurance costs across the industry, Townsend stated, are contributing factors to the decrease.

Townsend also reported Union General received $74,000 from the Georgia Rural Hospital Tax Credit while Chatuge Regional received $17,000 from the tax credit. As for the hospital’s clinics, Townsend stated, “Overall visits continue to trend upward each month.”

Michael Gay, chief operating officer, presented a construction update for the hospital’s orthopedic wing expansion stating the demolition phase has been completed and walls have been constructed in the wing. Gay estimated a completion date of February 2018 for the construction.


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Jason Beck

Born in Merrillville, Indiana, raised in Cleveland, Tennessee, and currently resides in Copperhill, Tennessee. Graduated from Bradley Central High School in 1996 and attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, eventually earning a B.A. and M.A. in English. Hobbies include hiking, camping and fly-fishing. Interests include baseball, hockey and cliff jumping.

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