Van Diest MC may close Dayton Clinic

WEBSTER?CITY – The Dayton Clinic, operated by Van Diest Medical Center, could soon be closing its doors as hospital officials projected an annual loss of more than $70,000 for the clinic opened in July.

The VDMC board of trustees discussed the matter Tuesday night in its regular session and heard comments from two Dayton officials.

Dayton Mayor Richard Travis and Councilwoman Beth Wickwire both offered their support for the community-based clinic.

“We have so appreciated the Van Diest Medical Center in Dayton, but we recently learned that Van Diest in general is experiencing some financial difficulties as well as the clinic,” said Wickwire.

“We’re here to support the clinic and offer any assistance we can both for the clinic and the medical center,” she said.

Wickwire told the board of trustees that she also was familiar with budgets, but added that if a funding source is lost, then future proceeds can’t be expected.

“The Dayton Clinic has not even been open for a year,” she said. “We’ve seen some real growth and some good things there. I just want you to know that the city of Dayton is ready to further assist with that.”

Wickwire suggested that the city would be willing to help market the clinic and VDMC in the community and surrounding area.

Travis said he learned about the possible board action only recently. He also pledged the city of Dayton’s support to the clinic.

“In the short time that we have known about this, we’ve managed to get the community group together and brainstorm how we can help not only the clinic but the hospital,” he said.

“We want to do what we can to keep this relationship thriving,” Travis said. “I think the trends in the eight months the clinic has been open, we’ve shown some positive growth.”

Travis said that the increased clinic hours that have been implemented due to the patient flow show that “trends are going in the right direction.”

The mayor also added that proposed closing had caught the community off guard. He added that the anticipated quarterly meetings and reports with VDMC had not taken place since October.

“That was part of our contract – that we would meet quarterly,” he said. “Unfortunately, because of some transition going on here at the hospital, that didn’t happen.”

That transition has included the resignation in early January of then CEO Robert Mason. Lori Rathbun was brought in a short time later to serve as interim CEO. She has since implemented a gap mitigation plan to cut costs and generate revenue to help offset an anticipated $3 million loss for VDMC.

The heart of the matter in Dayton was not how many patients are seen at the clinic, but rather how many are coming to VDMC for o in-patient care and out patient services like radiology and specialty clinics. Rathbun said the data shows that most of the patients are going either to Fort Dodge or Ames for those services.

“Dayton is in Webster County. We currently have a very viable clinic just 7 or 8 miles away from Dayton in Stratford,” Rathbun said.

“The residents of our community are counting on that medical care that they have been receiving,” Travis said. “The comments have been overwhelmingly positive.”

Trustee Myra Maxon asked if Travis the community would be willing to help offset the projected $70,000 loss.

He said that wouldn’t be fair to the community of Dayton without knowing exactly what those numbers are going to be. Travis said the community did raise about $10,000 in start up costs to bring the clinic to Dayton.

“It was my hope that with those quarterly meetings, if there was a problem, we could rectify it before we got this point,” he said.

The board went into closed session pursuant to Iowa Code 21.5(1)(l) to discuss the matter. As of press time, the board had taken no action on closing the clinic.