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County working with River Valley

County commissioners met this morning with River Valley Health System board members and state legislators, part of brainstorming sessions with the financially troubled institution’s leaders.

Wednesday, December 20, 2000

County commissioners met this morning with River Valley Health System board members and state legislators, part of brainstorming sessions with the financially troubled institution’s leaders.

"We’re looking at exploring every avenue we can possibly explore to prevent any loss of jobs," commissioner George Patterson said.

Commission president Bruce Trent said the meeting, which started at 8 a.m., is a continuation of dialogue from Monday.

"We’re listening to them to support them in whatever ways we can," Trent said. "I believe it’s a challenge and we have seen many individuals come together to help ensure the continuation of healthcare."

The commission met Monday morning with two board members, a representative of city council and the county’s legal adviser. That meeting followed a Friday hospital board meeting attended by commissioners and city council members.

The federal Balanced Budget Act of 1997 that cut amounts hospitals received in Medicare reimbursement, a downturn in the economy and a loss of physicians has created a financial challenge for RVHS, chief executive officer Terry Vanderhoof said.

"In addition to continuing discussions concerning affiliation, we have asked the county commissioners to work with us to see how we can work together to help the hospital and help maintain these 450 jobs," Vanderhoof said.

Earlier this year, revenue losses led to service cutbacks and layoffs at the hospital.

Also, River Valley has been talking affiliation with Genesis Hospital System. No action has been taken.

The recent meetings with county and state lawmakers are helpful by hospital leaders, Vanderhoof said.

"That’s the way it should be," he said. "A community works together in difficult times I view it as positive."

State representatives John Carey and Bill Ogg are expected at today’s meeting.

State Sen. Mike Shoemaker, U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland and U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine were also invited.