Ferrell Hospital supporters packed the newly expanded lobby Thursday to tour recent renovations and dedicate the rural health clinic building.
The clinic’s three additional divider suites with nine exam rooms and three physician’s offices opened to patient the last week of April with the business office operational the last week of July.
Speakers, including hospital President and CEO Tom Barry, State Rep. Brandon Phelps, State Senator Gary Forby, Chief of Medical Staff Dr. Elliott Partridge and Rural Health Clinic Medical Director Dr. Nate Oldham stressed Ferrell’s ability to provide compassionate care and its role in the small town’s economy.
The $850,000 project was funded significantly through an Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity CDAP Flex grant through the city of Eldorado on behalf of the hospital. Barry said the grant has been vital to the hospital’s growth since the hospital relies on Medicaid money trickling in from the state and finances have been extremely tight.
“It’s a gorgeous project and we really didn’t have to spend any cash on it,” Barry said.
He described the rural clinic expansion as 6,000 square feet in which half was renovation and half was new construction.
He said the grant application was “sitting in a bureaucratic death pile” until the Phelps and Forby team picked it out and saw the project through.
The USDA, Delta Regional Authority, Ferrell Plan Development Board, employees, patients and the city all played rolls in making the expansion a reality, Barry said.
“It takes a village to raise a family; it takes more than a village to raise a clinic,” Barry said.
Phelps said he was proud to see the money awarded to the hospital when so much grant money is awarded to Chicago institutions.
Phelps also has a personal connection to the hospital.
“I got my start here,” he said, having been born into the hands of Dr. Elliot Partridge.
The big picture in the growth of a hospital is in the growth of the local economy, Phelps said.
“It takes a good facility and good availability to good health care to make a good town,” he said.
Forby said he was proud to be a part of the passage of a bill in May that designated 51 hospitals in Illinois as critical care hospitals, a designation that helps protect funding for hospitals such as the not-for-profit Ferrell.
Partridge opened his speech recalling the day he helped bring Phelps into this world and caused the audience to roar with laughter as he set a rumor straight.
“I delivered Brandon Phelps and I don’t care what they say, I did not drop him on his head!” he said.
Partridge did not speak to the local economy or jobs; he spoke on a more personal need the expansion has satisfied for a working physician trying to keep his patients healthy.
“It’s the first real project that we’ve had that has given us space,” Partridge said.
He anticipates more projects that will help the hospital better serve the area.
“We’re landlocked. Right now I think we have real, real growth and this portends things to come,” he said.
Ferrell Rural Health Clinic Medical Director Dr. Nate Oldham told the crowd his goal for the clinic.
“Small town compassionate, professional care in a quiet, hometown environment,” he said.
Barry said in June of 2010 when the grant application was in limbo the hospital had one physician in the clinic serving 1,000 patients a year.
Now the two physicians and two physician’s assistants are serving 13,000 patients a year and bringing half a million dollars additional annual revenue to the hospital, Barry said.
He said to expect more growth at Ferrell with the Capital Campaign Project fundraising effort slated to bring in $3 million and other ventures toward a total $9 million goal.
Barry believes in the coming years the hospital will be able to fund a new emergency department, a new radiology department and other improvements.