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Lee County Says No to KAH

The Lee County Board of Supervisors has denied a request from Keokuk Area Hospital for a $100,000 contribution on a 3-2 vote.

Interim CEO Kathy DeVine says $100,000 contributions from both the county and the city of Keokuk, last year, were used as a local match for nearly $300,000 in state and federal funding.

She says the hospital had hoped to repeat the process with this request.  The money is needed as KAH addresses past debts.

"The dollars we requested are absolutely essential in order to create enough liquidity for day-to-day operations," says DeVine.

Devine says Keokuk Area Hospital’s financial struggles are linked to a growing number of low-income patients and inadequate reimbursements for services provided.

Supervisor Matt Pflug of Keokuk says this vote should have been automatic in favor of Keokuk Area Hospital given the facility's 300+ workers and the added response time if it closes.

"How would you vote against that," says Pflug, "I guess it just kind of disturbs me."

The three supervisors who were able to vote against it were Chairman Ernie Schiller and Supervisors Ron Fedler and Rick Larkin.

Schiller says he wants the hospital to succeed, but he feels the board was not given enough information about past job loss to make a proper decision.

He also disagreed with the fact that Kathy DeVine gave the hospital's presentation with her working for the firm hired to manage the hospital, not the hospital directly.

"When someone who is not even employed by the hospital is addressing us to come up with $100,000 from our taxpayers," says Schiller, "that was a travesty."

Fedler and Larkin also said they were told last year that the first request would be the hospital's last.

DeVine told the board she did not know why such a statement would have been made.

She says Keokuk Area Hospital will still go before the Keokuk City Council next week to request $100,000.  That could still secure about $150,000 from state and federal sources.

DeVine says she does not know if a return trip before the Lee County Board of Supervisors will occur.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.