Strong majority approval in special election;
ballot measure passes 59%-41%
On March 2, 2021, Henry County residents voted to authorize the Henry County Health Center (HCHC) Board of Trustees to pursue an operational lease agreement between HCHC and West Burlington-based Great River Health. Starting in July, Great River Health will lease HCHC’s facilities and assets, and will operate the health center. The expanded partnership, which takes effect July 1, 2021, will provide financial stability to HCHC, a Critical Access Hospital, and will ensure health care continues to be managed locally.
The trustees have been working on the operational lease agreement for more than a year, voting unanimously in its December 2020 board meeting to approve the plan to be put before voters in the special election held today. Polls closed at 8 p.m., and the election results were determined shortly after.
“We are thrilled residents have voted to secure the future of local health care. With the voters’ support, we look forward to taking the next steps in continuing HCHC’s rich history,” said HCHC Board of Trustees Chairman Kent Severson. “This year, HCHC is celebrating its 100th year serving the county, and we will be able to welcome that milestone with confidence and stability to ensure quality health care stays close to home for years to come.”
Under the agreement, HCHC will lease HCHC’s facilities and assets to Great River Health. The HCHC Board of Trustees will continue to be responsible for maintenance, improvement and any necessary replacement of leased hospital assets. The trustees will continue to govern and provide oversight on execution of the agreement. The operational lease also ensures management of the health center remains within Southeast Iowa, with critical decisions made at a local level.
After the plan takes effect in July, HCHC associates will remain employed by the HCHC Board of Trustees and retain their current benefits, including Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement System (IPERS) benefits. Many of HCHC’s current ties to the community will remain unchanged: Henry County Health Center will continue to be the name of the hospital, taxes will remain in Henry County, and HCHC Foundation funds will stay within the community.
“We are proud that the county saw the benefits of this expanded partnership between HCHC and Great River Health,” said David File, Vote Yes! Henry County Health Center Committee Chairman. “By voting yes, our residents have made the critical decision to support this investment in our region.”
HCHC has partnered with Great River Health for more than 10 years. This public-private partnership is among the first of its kind in Iowa and may be a possible solution for rural hospitals that face financial and industry-related challenges in the coming years.
“Great River Health is happy with the election results and we look forward to expanding and enhancing our trusted partnership with HCHC,” said Great River Health President and CEO Matt Wenzel. “We are very pleased to have the continued support of Henry County residents. We are committed to providing local, quality health care options for residents in our region now and ensuring the long-term stability of these services in the future.”
“On behalf of the trustees, I would like to thank the Vote Yes committee for its support, volunteer efforts and spreading the word about the benefits of this next step in the future of a great partnership,” Severson added. “We also thank all of the Henry County residents who supported us with their vote to keep health care local.”