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Salem Township Hospital President John Kessler says the new specialty physician clinics and the Davita Dialysis facility on the first floor of the Phase Two addition will open on Monday. He says patients and the doctors will see several improvements.

"It's just gives them a much better space that they can see their patients in and the nice thing is, it's four distinct pods. So, each pod has its own set of rooms, physician office and waiting rooms. So, when you come here, if you know which pod you're in, you got a distinct waiting room, so you're never too far away from the direction you're going in."

Kessler says right now there are 11 specialty physicians coming to Salem Township Hospital. If efforts are successful in increasing the number of general practioners, he feels the number of specialists will also grow.  

Kessler reported construction of the second door into the intensive care unit of the hospital is now complete. He reports photos and other documentation about the change will be sent to the Illinois Department of Public Health by Monday. Kessler says if they work at their usual pace, the hospital should be able to occupy the second floor of the Phase II addition that includes the private patient rooms and the new ICU unit.  

Kessler says they are very close to reaching an agreement with a doctor to relocate to Salem. Discussion has been opened with a second potential new doctor.  

The board awarded a $38,838 bid for changes in the registration area of the emergency room. Kessler says the work will open up the area to allow for more patients to be served at one time.  

Kessler announced the nursing department will be lead by a three member senior leadership team that will be responsible for policy development, training and evaluation. They will rotate coming to the hospital board meeting to see what is being discussed at the highest levels of the hospital. The board earlier eliminated the chief nursing officer position.

The Salem Township Hospital Board received good marks in the audit for the fiscal year ending March 31st. Auditor Mark Dallas says the hospital's overall financial health improved, with revenue topping expenses by $643,826, an increase of $211,000 from the prior year.

"Taking steps, really reinvested in this facility, you have a wonderful, beautiful facility. We're in and out of a lot of rural facilities, this is at the top of the list of how nice the facility is. With all the investments you've put into this facility, you still have a good equity ratio, your days cash on hand is strong, your overall financial position is good."

Dallas says overall patient revenue did decline $200,000 and there was a big shift between more medicaid and less self pay patients. He reports that is the result of the state doing a big expansion of medicaid.  While the percentage of payment on medicaid bills is low, it is likely better than what the hospital is able to collect from self-pay patients. The hospital's new President John Kessler was pleased with the numbers.

"Considering the fact that we've purchased several practices over the last couple years and we've seen the drastic changes in the health care environment, the fact that we've seen growth in our overall portfolio is significant. In many other cases you might see a decrease in the overall reimbursement. We saw an improvement in our reimbursement, which tells me two things with being new; we're controlling our costs fairly well and we're doing a good side on our revenue captures."

Kessler says he is concerned about the continued drop in the number of inpatients, but says the Affordable Health Care Act is pushing more use of outpatient services.  Those services continue to see greater use at Salem Hospital. 

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Political experts say U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk can survive damaging criticism from a fellow Republican fundraiser.

The first-term Republican who suffered a debilitating 2012 stroke is seeking re-election next year. But GOP fundraiser Ronald Gidwitz said in a published report Tuesday that public gaffes by Kirk hurt his re-election chances and put the party on the defensive. Gidwitz later tried to retract the statement.

DePaul University political scientist Nick Kachiroubas (kach'-ih-ROO'-bus) says Kirk is a moderate in a Democratic state and will be crucial to the GOP keeping control of the Senate in 2016.

Kent Redfield of the University of Illinois at Springfield noted Gidwitz later said Kirk is the GOP's best candidate and says Kirk could survive if he makes no more questionable comments.

CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois' only nonprofit health insurance co-op has struggled with low enrollment and financial losses.

A government audit released Thursday shows that only one of the nation's 23 co-ops made money last year.

The nonprofits were set up under the national health care overhaul as alternatives to mega-insurers.

In Illinois, Land of Lincoln Health had projected its net income to reach $28 million for 2014. Instead, the audit found, it had a net loss of $17.7 million.

Claims expenses topped income from premiums by $7.8 million.

And Land of Lincoln's 3,461 enrollees were less than 4 percent of the 94,249 it had expected to sign up.

Spokeswoman Janine Sheedy says the co-op has "adapted to the marketplace," now enrolled more than 50,000 members and is "on the pathway to profitability by 2016."

Fire causes heavy damage to the attic of the Wayne and Debra Bartel residence at 310 North Madison in Kinmundy.

The attic of a Kinmundy home burned in a late Wednesday afternoon fire.

The fire was at the Wayne and Debra Bartel residence at 310 North Madison in Kinmundy.  Kinmundy-Alma Fire Chief Kevin Day says that Wayne had been outside and smelled smoke when going inside to check on his wife.  Both made it out safely. 

The smoke turned out to be from a fire burning in the attic of the home.  Firemen were able to confine the fire to the attic area, but it was heavily damaged.  The rest of the home sustained smoke damage.  

One fireman said that 90% of the blaze was knocked down by spraying water from just one side of the house.  

The cause of the fire has not been determined.  A state Deputy Fire Marshal has been called in to investigate.  

Farina Firemen were called for mutual aide assistance.  The fire call came in around 4:20 Wednesday afternoon.  

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