Community gathers to learn more about new Colusa Medical Center

The new CEO of Colusa Medical Center, Kelley Gentry speaks to a crowd of concerned citizens during their community outreach meeting on Tuesday.

More than 150 county residents gathered for a public reception at the Colusa County Fairgrounds last night, and learned quite a bit about what the new Colusa Medical Center might look like, and when they may get a chance to see it in person.

Colusa Medical Center CEO Kelley Gentry and American Specialty Healthcare CEO Gia Smith traded the microphone back and forth for the better part of an hour, giving some updates on the hospital’s path to reopening and answering questions from the audience.

When Will it open?

Hospital Auxiliary member Sheila Etchepare broke the ice in the question and answer period, asking the question she said, “everyone was there to hear: When is the hospital opening?”

“That is the number one question. At this point, we haven’t published any official dates, but I can give you enough evidence to show you what’s actually happening,” Gentry said. “First let me give you a large picture response to that question: We are hoping to do everything we can to get the doors open either late spring or early summer, and there’s a lot of contingencies involved in that.”

The two biggest “bottlenecks” would probably be getting everything through the appropriate regulatory agencies, Gentry said, including the licensing. Gentry noted that, in addition to the general acute care hospital license, there were two other licenses that generally take some more time: a pharmacy and a clinical lab license.

“Those two generally take the longest to get processed by the regulatory agencies, but the good news is, both of those applications are in motion…” Gentry said.

What services will it Provide?

Colusa County Supervisor John Loudon asked what services the Colusa Medical Center would provide. Both Gentry and Smith took turns at answering the question.

“Everybody really wants to know when the emergency room is going to be open again, and so that is obviously one of our main focuses. We’re in the process of locating quality physicians that you deserve to have here at the hospital, serving everybody here,” Gentry said. “We have the same value that you do. We want to make sure that emergency room is operated correctly.”

Gentry said that there would be acute care, including an intensive care unit, respiratory care, ancillary services (pharmacy, lab and radiology), outpatient services including outpatient surgery, physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, clinics, and the reopening of the home health agency.

“Over time… there is a long list of things we’d like to see happen to expand the number of specialties in the area, and everybody that’s worked in rural health knows how difficult it can be to attract different specialists,” Gentry said.

Smith added that the hospital was undergoing complete upgrades to the interior of the hospital, including private rooms, large televisions and more.

“Every square-foot of the hospital inside has been update, because we want to bring more updated services to you(r)… community.”

Smith also said that the hospital would have some sub-acute services, long-term bed patients and skilled nursing services at the hospital. Smith said that, other than obstetrics and gynecology, all services provided at the old hospital would be provided at the new Medical Center.

How many beds will the new medical center have?

Smith said that there would be a total of 49 beds, of which 21 will be acute, four will be ICU, and 24 will be skilled nursing/sub-acute.

What physicians will staff the hospital/Emergency Room?

Smith said that staff had been reaching out to community doctors and meeting with them periodically.

“Of course we want to work with community doctors, and we have been working together… We will also be bringing in some specialists from outside communities to suit your needs,” Smith said.

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Brian Pearson is the Managing Editor & Reporter for the Williams Pioneer Review. Brian joined the Williams Pioneer Review in June 2016 and is committed to bringing hyperlocal news to its readers. A few of his projects include reporting on local government and the newly feature sports page. To contact Brian about this article, or for future articles, please email him at brian@colusacountynews.net