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JDA considers healthcare investment

By Staff | Nov 9, 2018

Two representatives from Heart of America Medical Center spoke at a regular meeting of the Rugby JDA Oct. 25 to request funding for new equipment they said would save local jobs.

Dustin Hager, PA-C, and hospital pharmacist Erik Christenson presented information on 3D mammography, its benefit and growing status as a standard of care for patients needing the test.

“We are in the process of upgrading to 3D digital mammography from our current 2D digital mammography,” Hager told the group.

“What we are asking is that the Rugby JDA invest $10,000 into this project to improve health care in our community,” Christenson said.

Hager said the money given by the Rugby JDA would be matched by a grant through the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation.

“They (the foundation) would match your dollars through their ‘Twice Blessed’ campaign, and that would aid us in getting closer to our funding number,” Hager noted.

Both representatives said the total budgeted cost of the 3D mammography project would run above $380,000.

Hager and Christenson argued that not upgrading the equipment would mean more patient referrals to facilities that offered the 3D imaging, resulting in a loss of income for local businesses who count on shoppers from both Rugby and outlying areas.

Christenson passed out financial information detailing average salaries at HAMC, and estimates for the number of jobs associated with delivering mammography services. According to the information, a steady loss of patient referrals resulting from outdated equipment would ultimately mean two lost jobs by 2021.

Hager said HAMC had also discussed grants with representatives from the Otto Bremer Foundation.

“This is a project we’re going to do, one way or another,” Hager concluded. “The question is, if we can tap your investment, if you can invest in this project, it’s going to get us there much quicker. If the JDA chooses not to invest in the project, it’s going to take a little longer to get the project completed. But this is a project we’re going to do, one way or another. It’s just a matter of timing, dollars, and how quickly you can get it done.”

“I always say, keeping our hospital healthy keeps our community healthy,” said JDA member and Rugby Mayor Sue Steinke as Hager and Christenson ended their presentation.

The JDA members next began a discussion of the relationship between new equipment and local jobs and the importance of keeping their focus on jobs.

City Auditor Jennifer Stewart stressed the importance of proper accounting practices with any possible donation, both for the JDA and the hospital.

“Just so that (the donation) is transparent,” Stewart said. “It’s public funds, and regardless of how your accounting practices are, we still have to account for those funds that we’re giving.”

“If someone comes and wants to see where those funds went, and we can show them it went toward this, and then there isn’t a problem. But if you can’t show that it goes towards that, we can’t give the funds,” she added.

With JDA President Tanner Johnson and member Jodi Schaan abstaining, the board approved the donation “with the stipulation that funds are appropriated from the right place and the financial part of it is correct.”

In other business, the JDA discussed items from their August 23 meeting, approved financials, and discussed developing ways to provide more financial assistance to local businesses after learning of programs in other communities.

Members discussed progress on construction and marketing for properties in the Chalmer’s Addition, and Executive Director Jessica Brossart told the group a move for the JDA to new space in the Rugby Depot would not prove feasible due to limited space.

Brossart also called attention to new carpeting, paint and other improvements in their facility at Hartley’s Mall.

New business included discussion of a billboard advertising campaign promoting Rugby along highways in Grand Forks, Minot and Carrington.

Brossart reminded attendees of a scheduled Executive Committee meeting for November 1, and encouraged attendance at an upcoming “Board Boot Camp,” to be held in the Farm Credit Services Meeting Room November 15 from 6-8 p.m.

The next regular JDA meeting is scheduled for Thursday, November 29 at noon.

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