Citizens Advisory Board members heard about several on-going and future projects at the Cherokee Human Resource Center, during the group's quarterly Citizen's Advisory Board meeting on Friday at the MHI.
CCUSO Director of Operations Brad Wittrock and MHI Plant Operation Managers Mike Thompson and Jim Stowater briefed the Board on several remodeling and other maintenance projects in which they and their staffs are involved.
Wittrock spoke of the remodeling projects on the South 5 and South 8 wards, which will increase the capacity of CCUSO by fifty additional patients and relieve current overcrowding on South 3. The changes will bring the capacity of CCUSO to 100 patients. Upgrades to the plumbing, electrical and HVAC (air management) systems will also be a part of the project. Better utilization of space will be one of the outcomes of the project, and the wards will be designed to accommodate the needs of an aging CCUSO population. an ADA- approved elevator will also be constructed on the unit, and this will streamline the deliveries of meals from the MHI kitchen. A future project will be the remodeling of South 7m and $750,000 has been approved for his, The security infrastructure (cameras, doors, and digital recording) is already in place, as part of the current remodeling project.
The CCUSO Control Center is being re-located as well, and will provide CCUSO with a public entrance separate from MHI. It will also provide the staff with a better visual of the yard where patients are at times. The security equipment will be updated also to provide better quality recordings, and additional fencing and expansion of the yard space will provide additional space for vocational training and provide an egress fire route for the North building stacks. A separate fire upgrade was done also, funded with routine maintenance dollars and with the cooperation of the Cherokee Fire Department, which will provide quicker response time for firefighters to patient living areas.
Expansion of the parking areas at the Center will be done, necessitated by the growth of programs on campus and possible further expansion of programs.
Tuck pointing will be done on the main MHI building, over 10 years old now, to minimize interior damage from water leaks. This will also restore the historical aesthetics of the building.
The tunnel system at MHI is the network of the infrastructure of the building, essential to maintenance and dietary crews, as they move among buildings. Again, mostly because of leakage problems, the "tops" of the tunnels need to be repaired, and this project is already underway. A roofing and gutter project will begin in the spring of 2008, a $1.6 million projected affecting several buildings throughout the state in an effort to ensure the quality of state building infrastructure. All of these projects could provide additional work for area contractors.
The Sate Forester, Joel Swartz of LeMars, has become involved in a project regarding the trees on the Human Resource Center grounds. Several trees have been found to be diseased to some extent, and MHI plans to replace 230 of the trees with new varieties. Thompson assured the group that "every scrap of wood (from felled trees) will be used" for things such as mulching and burning wood - some of which may be given to employees who request it.
Street repair and lighting, a D.O.T. project, will provide "Vintage" street lighting to the campus (similar to the vintage light-poles in downtown Cherokee). Bids for the project will be let in December, and the hope is that the project will start in Spring 2008.
MHI still plans to move ahead on purchasing a new boiler, which will be able to burn the "pellets" being produced at the Cherokee Landfill. They will need to obtain a $1.7 million loan, and the Iowa State Treasurer has agreed to cosign the loan. When the boiler is in place, MHI plans to use their steam boiler for the air conditioning system as well as the heating. When everything is in place and operating, the expected cost of MHI's heating is expected to be roughly 37.5% less than the cost of heating with natural gas.
The total cost for all the projects, at both CCUSO and MHI, is estimated at $5.2 million.
Long-range plans, after the boiler system is installed and working, call for purchasing windows which are more energy efficient than those currently in place, and also putting better insulation in the attic.
MHI Medical Records Director Roxanne Moller presented an update on the updating of the electronic medical records system, a project which is going on throughout state institutions. Phase I of the project involves "Admission and Billing" records, while Phase II involves the entering of medical records. Several MHI staff will be undergoing training starting August 20th, and MHI expects to "go live" after Labor Day. Moller is enthused about the software, which she describes as "user-friendly," and in ten training sessions between now and the end of September, Susan Bakker and Jane Campbell from MHI will be involved in determining how the software needs to be modified for Cherokee MHI's use.
The expectation is that the entire project will be completed and up-and-running by June 2008.
MHI Superintendent Dr. Daniel Gillette distributed a report to the group which showed that the average age of MHI employees is 49.55, with an average length of service of 17.51 years, and said that the experience of MHI employees is one of MHI's greatest assets.