Health Care Authority sets $879,128 budget for 2011



Blount County Health Care Authority chairman Wendell Ellis last week announced the agency’s 2011 fiscal year budget will be $880,000 including expenses, agency funding, and payments on bonded indebtedness. That compares with a 2010 budget of $900,000 for the same items.

The 2011 budget is about 2 percent less than the current fiscal year budget, reflecting the authority’s trimming of about $36,600 in operating expenses for the coming fiscal year. Agency funding for 2011 is up about 3 percent for the 2011 fiscal year to a total of $537,000.

The budget summary for 2011 showed the following:

•total projected revenues of $970,000, up from $945,000 the current year, reflecting an increase in lease income, more than offsetting a slight reduction in ad valorem tax revenues.

•total projected expenditures of $879,000, down from $900,000 for the current year, and falling into the following categories:

*principal plus interest payment of $267,000 on bonded indebtedness of about $3 million.

*operating expenses of $75,000 representing auditing/accounting /legal fees, insurance, and miscellaneous costs.

*health-related personnel support costs of $254,000 for five positions funded directly by the health care authority (two school nurses, two mental health counselors, and the Blount County mental health officer).

*health-care-related funding to outside agencies (excluding personnel support funding) of $282,000, up from $280,000 for the current year.

*revenues exceed expenses in the 2011 projected budget by $91,000.

Agency funding breakdown

•Blount County Health Department (medical assistance program including prescription drugs for the elderly)

$75,000

•Blount County Board of Education nurse 52,000

•Jefferson/Blount/St.Clair mental health agency 11,400

•Jefferson/Blount/St. Clair counselors

95,283

•Hope House (for the intensive outpatient drug rehab program) 35,550

•Blount County Mental Health Officer

75,000 •Blount EMS ambulance service

42,000

•Volunteer Fire/Rescue Departments equipment & EMS training 68,300

•Blount County Childrens Center

38,000

•Kid One Transport 12,000

The Blount County Health Care Authority has net capital asssets of about $20 million, including ownership of the leased St. Vincent’s Blount hospital, The Gym and contiguous commercial property, the Blount County Health Department building, and the Family Service Mall. It has accumulated cash on hand of roughly $1.5 million, following a recent contribution of $450,000 for new, hi-tech imaging equipment for St. Vincent’s Blount hospital.

Ellis said the authority is currently pursuing two significant projects. One is a new medical clinic in the Hayden area to serve citizens of western Blount County. He said a possible building has been identified, and that a grant application will be filed in early 2011 with the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs to cover new equipment and other costs for the building.

The clinic will be staffed initially with a doctor, nurse, and administrator, with sufficient space to expand to two doctors when needed, he said. The clinic would be operated by St. Vincent’s Health System, and could be in operation by late next year, Ellis said.

A second new project involves renovating the first floor of the St. Vincent’s Blount professional building to accommodate St. Vincent’s Blount physicians now located on the building’s second floor.

Following renovation, St. Vincents physicians will move to the newly remodeled space on the first floor, freeing second-floor space to accommodate the Baptist Health Center clinic which would move from its present location on Ala 75 north in Oneonta.

The $370,000 project would include renovating about 3,800 sq. ft. of floor space, with costs to be repaid by St. Vincents Blount over a seven-year period. The Baptist Health Center clinic currently has a staff of three physicians with support employees.

“With the investments we’ve made in the hospital, professional building, and are looking at for the Hayden clinic, Blount County will have as good a health care system as anywhere in the country,” Ellis said. “For a small rural county, we’re fortunate to have facilities like this. We now have, believe, 117 different physicians with just about every specialty you can think of practicing at St. Vincent’s Blount.”

History of Health Care Authority

The Blount County Health Care Authority was organized in 1949 as the Blount County Hospital Board, following an act of the Alabama Legislature allowing counties to establish boards to address public health issues. The overall purpose of the board was to promote public health, safety, and welfare of the people of Blount County, a charge the health care authority still carries.

The hospital board oversaw construction of Blount Memorial Hospital which served the county in that capacity until construction of the new hospital in 1999.

The Blount County Health Care Authority retained ownership of the old hospital building, and began renovating it in 2008 as the Family Service Mall.

To date, the health care authority has renovated some 45,000 sq. ft. of the old hospital, at a total cost of about $2 million, a portion of which was covered by a federal grant. About 20,000 sq. ft. of the building remains and will be renovated as needed for future growth and expansion.

The Family Service Mall currently houses Hope House, Quality of Life Clinic, the Blount County juvenile court, the juvenile probation office, and community corrections, along with several related agencies such as CASA, the Court-Appointed Special Advocates agency for foster children.

It is considered an innovative solution in that it consolidates a number of county agencies providing indigent, juvenile, and related services in one location, thus alleviating the inconvenience and confusion for citizens at having many agencies scattered at multiple buildings and locations.

Members of the Blount County Health Care Authority are: Wendell Ellis, chairman; Sara Holloway, vice-chairman; Gene Wadkins, financial officer; Becky McGowen, secretary; and board members Sarah Holt, Jeff Hallmark, Jerry Jones, Charles Wisdom, and Ramey Peters. Libby Nash serves as the authority’s legal counsel.