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Dickinson County Memorial Hospital currently has no coronavirus patients

IRON MOUNTAIN — Dickinson County Memorial Hospital currently has no COVID-19 patients as vaccination efforts continue and administrators point to a better financial picture than two years ago.

“We haven’t had a (coronavirus) patient for a couple of weeks,” Sue Hadley, director of nursing, said during a hospital board Zoom meeting Thursday. “Hopefully, we continue to see that,” she added.

Dickinson County has reported no deaths from COVID-19 since early January. Iron County, however, has had 12 deaths over that same span, according to Dickinson-Iron District Health Department postings.

Most of Dickinson County’s 67 deaths to date were from mid-October through December.

March 16 will mark the anniversary of the first meeting of the COVID-19 steering committee at Dickinson County Healthcare System, Hadley told the board.

“We continue to move forward with vaccinations,” she said. “The rollout has been really smooth.”

Hadley cited numbers similar to those listed by the health department, indicating a first vaccine dose for more than 20% of the county’s population.

The hospital itself has provided vaccines for 2,848 people, both first and second doses, she said.

Brian Donahue, DCHS chief financial officer, offered an overview of “the challenging year” in 2020. December showed a profit of $21,000, resulting in a positive bottom line for the year of $3.7 million.

The operating margin in 2020 was 4%, Donahue said. No details were shared on the impact of federal pandemic aid.

DCHS had 84 days of cash on hand as of Dec. 31, compared with 26 days in December 2018, as the hospital launched a financial restructuring.

CEO Chuck Nelson gave an update on “a lot of work accomplished” in 2020, including hiring 20 providers in a variety of fields. DCHS achieved “A” ratings in patient safety from the Leapfrog Group and moved the timetable to fully fund its defined benefit pension plan from 20 years down to 10 years, he said.

Also mentioned was DCHS’s support of the Kiwanis Ski Club as a title sponsor of the Pine Mountain ski jumping tournament, canceled this month by pandemic restrictions. The hospital plans to “reach out and support our community in ways we haven’t been able to do in the past few years,” Nelson said.

In Washington, the U.S. Department of Agriculture continues to review DCHS’s application for a $16.9 million Rural Development loan.

The hospital hopes to use the funds to refinance long-term debt and acquire new equipment.

Jim Anderson can be reached at janderson@ironmountaindailynews.com.

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