TMH board to discuss MRI proposal

Public will have chance to comment

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The Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees will review an option to lease a Magnetic Resonance Imaging machine and office space from Northwest Health Specialists during its regular monthly meeting tonight.

The board meets at 7 p.m. in the Platinum Conference Room in the VNA building next to the hospital.

TMH Administrator Randy Phelps is scheduled to make a slide presentation outlying the benefits of the proposed lease agreement and how it could enhance the hospital's financial position.

After factoring in the proposed lease payments and the projected revenue stream, the hospital expects to make $150,000 to $200,000 a year on the deal "with a lot of potential to go upwards from there," board President Sue Lyster said Tuesday.

"We're seeing it as a way to improve our bottom line to help fund the new hospital," she said.

The entire board penned a letter to the editor (see page 6), staking out "the many positive aspects of this proposed relationship," including the lease can be terminated at any time.

"After a year, if it's not working, we can give it back" to Northwest Health Specialists, Lyster said.

The public will have opportunities to comment on the proposed lease arrangement. Lyster said she had "no idea" whether anyone would show up. She expected a crowd for the board's vote on whether to renew a contract with Quorum Health Resources on June 30. But only one private resident attended the meeting.

In the letter to the editor, the board defended its decision to enter into a confidentiality agreement with the owners of Northwest Health Specialists, saying negotiations are an exception to open meetings law. But the deal "will be open for discussion and input at regular board meetings before any final decision is made."

Lyster said there are still some hurdles to overcome before the board can make a decision. For one thing, details of the lease agreement have not been finalized and a service contract with GE for upkeep on the machine is still unresolved. The board must also weigh how it can integrate the employees at Northwest Health Specialists into the hospital organization, among other things.

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