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Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, October 09, 2007

Shown taking part in the groundbreaking ceremony for the Ringgold County Hospital are,
from left: Larry Tepley, Gordon Winkler, John Schafer, Mike Kemery, Kathi Braby, Jim Pedersen, Dane Johnson, Jack Schuler, Thomas C. Dorr, Randy Gregg, Bill Armstrong, John Monson, Fred Wilson and Nancy Pellete.

Ground-breaking held for hospital

An official beginning for the construction of the new 16-bed Ringgold County Hospital was held Friday when ground was ceremonially broken before a crowd of well-wishers at the new site just east of Highway 169 and the junction with Columbus Street. [The property was approximately a 22-acre tract owned by Mark and Lynda Triggs.]

A number of dignitaries were on hand for the ceremony, including Thomas C. DORR, undersecretary of agriculture for rural development.

The new replacement facility for the hospital built in 1951 will be approximately 61,000 square feet and is estimated to cost nearly $25 million.

USDA Rural Development is providing at $14.48 million guaranteed loan to Arbor One ACA, a member of the Farm Credit System, and an $8.7 million direct loan to the hospital to help with the funding.

Ringgold County Hospital is one of the 82 Critical Access Hospitals in Iowa -- facilities located in rural communities more than 35 miles from another hospital with no more than 25 beds which provide emergency care 24 hours a day and provide both inpatient and outpatient care.

Hospital administrator Gordon WINKLER noted that the bonds for the hospital had been sold the morning of the ceremony, another major step in the process. He thanked all the people who had worked to make the project a reality.

Also speaking at the ground breaking were Jack SHULER, CEO of Arbon One, which is helping with the financing, and Tom DORR, undersecretary for rural development. Also on had was Mark REISINGER, Iowa state director of Rural Development for the United States Department of Agriculture; Nancy PELLETTE, Farm Credit Association board member; and John MONSON and other representatives from Ag-Star, another of the lenders.

Representatives of Yanik Company, the hospital's representative in the building project; HFR, the building architect; KJW, the project mechanical engineers, and Graham Construction, the project managers, were all present as well.

A ceremonial check was signed and presented and a host of dignitaries donned hard hats and golden shovels for the ceremonial ground-breaking.

Earth moving equipment working on spreading gravel over the construction site took a time out for the ceremony.

Alan RUSK, EMT-PS at the hospital, gave the project blessing.

In his talk, DORR noted that silver-haired folks are returning to rural America in growing numbers. Having access to health care, quality education and internet access are all areas that people are looking for as they move back to rural areas, he noted.

The global expansion of the middle class is expanding the need for both food and energy, items that Iowa is poised to be able to offer.

DORR congratulated the local community leaders who have worked hard to make the new hospital a reality and noted the effort of USDA Rural Development to make the vision a reality.

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, November 20, 2007

Work progresses on the new Ringgold County Hospital at Mount Ayr.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, June of 2012

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, December 17, 2009

Open house held for new hospital

Over 800 people took tours of the new Ringgold County Hospital as part of the open house activities held Sunday, December 13. An opening ceremony included short talks by hospital administrator Gordon WINKLER, hospital board president Kathi BRADY and USDA Rural Development representative Kathy LAMBERT. BRABY then cut the ribbon in a ceremony with members of the Mount Ayr Chamber of Commerce.

Groups took 45-minute tours of the facility, seeing areas of the hospital that will not be accessible by the public once the facility opens for good on Sunday, Dec. 20.

This is a busy week as the hospital is moved from the old facility to the new one while keeping services available during the move.

Photographs courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, December of 2012

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, February 26, 2015, Page 1

Board seeks resoluteion for old hospital building

Discussion and decisions centered on disposition/repurposing of the old hospital facility at the regular Ringgold County Hospital Board meeting held Monday, February 16. . . .

Old Facility The disposal/repurposing topic has been ongoing as discussion for over a year with no real action. In January, board members heard from RCH administrator Gorden Winkler that meeting with community members and county groups had generated an overall interest in working for a solution that could benefit the community as a whole. In response to that interest, Don Seymour, representative from FEH Architects, was contacted and was present at the board meeting to provide information on how his firm might facilitate moving forward in that direction.

FEH Architects specializes in deconstruction and repurposing, working with many entities including municipalities and schools and has experience working with budget constraints and making projects work for the betterment of communities. FEH concentrates on recycling material from a facility before demolition, often diverting up to 90 percent of salvage material from landfills and providing dollars back to help with demolition costs. Seymour listed several potential items from old RCH facility - including furniture, doors, ceilings, lights, refrigerators, hardware and cabinets - that might be easily recycled in as little as four months. If contracted, FEH would prepare a proposal, recycle as much as possible ahead of time and then open bids for deconstruction on the old portion of the facility.

Additionally, Seymour informed the board that he had been in contact with Scott Flagg, DNR representative, regarding a derelict building fund that might be available. This fund is intended to keep communities vital and to help manage buildings that are in disrepair. Seymour estimated a sizable portion of deconstruction costs could be covered with receipt of the targeted DNR funds. Ringgold County Hospital's facility could be considered for these funds although there were certain restrictions that applied as well as a tight deadline of barely a week to put all paperwork in place and complete the application. After discussion, the board voted to allow Winkler and FEH to proceed with making application for the DNR funds.

Photograph courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, September of 2015

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, May 28, 2015, Page 1

Old hospital building to be demolished
Costs preclude saving newer medical clinic

A decison on the disposal of the old hospital and clinic facility was among the topics covered at the Ringgold County Hospital regular monthly board meeting, held Monday, May 18.

Disposal and/or salvage of the old hospital and former Mount Ayr Medical Clinic facility was again a topic of discussion along with more alternative suggestions compiled from interested community members and organizations. Administrator Gordon Winkler shared recent ideas that have been explored which included renovating the clinic for a professional building or a wellness center, complete demolition with the intent to use the property for urban renewal, complete demolition and removal, or a combination of salvage and demolition.

A major obstacle to salvaging the old medical clinic wing was the cost of separating its HVAC system from the old hospital's system. The estimated HVAC cost plus the cost of remodeling was considered too high for any reasonable expectation of return on investment. It was determined the proposals for utilizing the former medical clinic would all require additional funds from Ringgold County Hospital in addition to the already known demolition costs of the old hospital building. After consideration of the options, it was decided to more forward with plans for salvage and demolition of the entire structure. Administration and maintenance staff will work with Don Seymour of FEH, an architectural firm from Des Moines.

Seymour will salvage and sell for the hospital any recyclable/saleable items and then set up demolition for the remaining buildings and contents. Seymour estimated a fall 2015 date for completion with work to begin immediately.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, September of 2015

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, December 31, 2015, Page 1

RCH board approves demolition
Michigan firm bid of $464,800 is accepted

Accepting a recommendation on the old hospital facily demolition and disposal project headlinged discussion at the Ringgold CountyHospital regular monthly board of trustees meeting held Monday, December 21. . .

Demolition

Regarding demolition of the old hospital facility, four area residents were present specifically to address the demolition plan and a discussion was held before final action was taken by the board.

Jim Routh and Warren Angus of Mount Ayr both questioned the decision to proceed with complete demolition of the property. There was concern that not all avenues had been explored to salvage the 20-year-old portion built to house the Mount Ayr Medical Clinic.

Routh stated he felt it was not a good decision to tear up the existing parking lot on the south side of the old facility and Angus agreed. It was also suggested that perhaps the building could have been gifted to someone instead of offered for sale.

In reponse to the questions, the board noted that there had been exhaustive attempts to find alternatives to complete demolition of the property. Many committee meetings were held and several area residents from different entities met with the board and hospital representatives to find a feasible and sustainable use of the property. It was stated that turning the property over to someone would not ensure that the property would be maintained or repurposed and could in fact be left setting to deteriorate further and create a hardship on the surrounding residential neighborhood.

Angus state that his questions had been answered and was satisfied the board had demonstrated their responsibility to review and consider an extensive list of options and alternatives for the facilities.

Greg Jobe, board member explained that as good stewards and responsible property owners it was best to practice due diligence and complete the demolition and return the property to its orginal state. It was indicated the property was defined as an exempt use by city ordinance, and once the hospital is removed the property will automatically revert to residential zoning.

Kim Lutrick and Dr. Jerald Phipps, whose properties abut the hospital property, were present to voice their support of the demolition. Brenda Grose, a property owner directly across the stree from the old clinic facilities, indicated her support as well.

. . . .At the end of the discussion on the demolition plan, [Don] Seymour [of FEH Design] addressed the board with results of the bidding on the old hospital facility. Interested parties from all over the United States have been part of the recycling/repurposing efforts. Most recently the boiler was salvaged at a price of $7,200.

[Seven bids were received on the final demolition and clean-up portion of the project. Dore and Associates came in as the low bidder with a base bid of $439, 200 plus $25,600 for Alternate 1 - the removal of parking lot paving. . . . in an unanimous decision the contract for complete demolition of the property and demolition of the concrete parking lot was awarded to Dore and Associates for a total of $464,800.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, May of 2016

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, March 17, 2016, Pages 1 & 9

Part of Mount Ayr history being razed

As trucks roll in and construction workers move on site to demolish the former Ringgold County Hospital, what began as a vision built in a residential area on acres of green grass will be returned to green grass and a site for new ventures.

The original hospital was built in 1951, spearheaded by local community leaders, including some of the first board of director members. They saw a need for a local hospital and set out to make it a reality.

Dr. Duane Mitchell arrived in 1953 and continued practicing for more than 46 years. Dr. Frank Matteson came in the early 1950's and died in 1984.

Ringgold County Hospital opened with a staff of 21 people managed by hospital administrator Genevieve M. Green and overseen by the first board of trustees which included: C. C. Lawhead, Billie Finch, H. M. Ross, Wm. S. Breckenridge, Carl Hogue, Homer Denny and Paul Beymer.

As a new facility, the 30-bed hospital boasted "state of the art" equipment, designated surgical, labor and delivery rooms with a fully equipped baby nursery and a separate ambulance entrance.

Many local residents will remember pressing their faces against the outside nursery windows, to view new babies as children were not allowed in the hospital for visiting.

Early ambulances services were provided by the same vehicles used by local funeral homes.

Obstetrical care and baby delivery at RCH ended in the 1990's with rising costs of medical malpractice insurance and declining numbers of babies.

In 1955, Dr. Roy Fell was recruited by Sylva Moffit to purchase her deceased husband's medical practice. Dr. Fell was the first Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) in Mount Ayr and hospital trustees were reluctant to give Dr. Fell admitting privileges, considering Osteopathic medicine was less trusted than those with the initials M.D. (Medical Doctor) behind their name.

After a couple of years buildig his practice, Dr. Fell was granted privileges and continued as a popular, trusted and well-loved Ringgold county doctor, practicing for a total of 31 years before his retirement in 1986.

Dr. Mitchell, Dr. Fell and Dr. Matteson became mainstays of the medical community along with longtime nursing staff remembered including Alta Gillespie, Fern Thompson, Margaret Wilson, Socorra Waugh and Janet Hickman, to name a few.

[Page 9] With the retirement of the earlier physicians, the hospital added two more longtime physicians to their staff who continue to practice today -- Dr. Dwain Crain, who purchased Dr. Fell's practice and clinic facility in 1985, and Dr. Bruce Ricker, a Mount Ayr School graduate, who returned in 1997 to practice at the newly constructed Mount Ayr Medical Clinic annexed to the old hospital facility.

Doctors no longer made house calls or worked on call 24/7 and changing with the times by providing a clinic facility was the bridge needed to get and retain additonal quality physician care.

The original Ringgold County Hospital operated at the Shellway Drive location until 2009, when continuing changes in medical practices across the 60 years service span of Ringgold County Hospital's former facility, spurred another group with a vision in 2004 to begin planning for a new hospital.

Once again, hospital administration and staff and local leaders, set out to build a first class facility with state of the art equipment and top-notch providers and employees.

In 2009, the new hospital opened at it's present location on Highway 169. With the ever changing face of medicine, RCH medical staff now includes not only doctors, but nuse practitioners, physician assistants including Dr. Ricker and Dr. Crain, Dr. Michael Magers, Dr. Brad (also a MACHS grad) and Dr. Nicole Wilson, Dr. Jerald Phipps, Marcy Gregg, ARPN, Raydeen Derscheid, ARNP, Ron Schafer, PA-C, the shared services of Dr. Ed Wehling, general surgeon, who joined staff after the retirement of Dr. Dane Johnson, general surgeon and a visiting clinci staff offering specialized services.<>Interestingly, the practicing physicians in the community are all Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, a certain change from the early years when the hospital was first opened.

With the opening of the new facility, the board of trustees faced the challenge of deciding the fate of the old hospital and it's site.

Many ideas and proposals crossed the desks of hospital administrator, Gordon Winkler and several board of trustees directors after the building was vacated in 2009, but in the end, it was decided to return the property to its original residential status.

Ironically it was five plus years in the planning to build the first hospital in Ringgold County and a similar time frame to evaluate proposals, ideas and make the decision for complete demolition including the newer Mount Ayr Medical Clinic portion of the structure.

As the site is cleared and the hospital completes, in the current hospital board's words, their "good stewardship to return the site to it's former green landscape," another time in history is cleared and a new use for the land will be envisioned.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, May of 2016

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, April 14, 2016, Page 2

Letters To The Editor: Remembering Dr. Moffitt

To the editor:

A few weeks ago there was an article in the Record-News about the opening of the Ringgold County Hospital in 1951. It was an interesting story but one main item of importance was left out.

Dr. T. I. Moffitt, an osteopath, was the main person in getting us a hospital and practiced there until he passed away.

He delivered my oldest daughter, Sandy, in March 1954. When my youngest daughter, Dee Dee, was born in November 1956, we had to go to Creston. Dr. Roy Fell had bought Dr. Moffitt's practice and he was an osteopath and wasn't allowed to practice in the local hospital.

Just wanted people to remember Dr. Moffitt and what he did for the county in getting the hospital built.

Louise Frost
Mount Ayr

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, April 21, 2016, Page 4

Letters To The Editor: Dr. Moffitt's practice remembered

To the editor:

Eighty-five years ago the dear Dr. T. I. Moffitt delivered a baby boy on Mrs. R. C. Holden's kitchen table 10 miles south of Mount Ayr.

Dr. Tom and his wife/nurse lived above the current Aunt Jennie's Attic which was then Maynards 5&10-cent store. He later moved his office to the west side of the square where the abstract office is today.

Dr. Fell bought Dr. Tom's practice. Then Dr. Crain bought Dr. Fell's practice.

Dr. Crain still has cabinets that Dr. Tom owned with a few old instruments.

Anybody remember the hitching posts with chains on the inside of the square?

Thanks.

Daryl Holden
Mount Ayr

[Editor's note: Daryl Holden is that baby boy who was delivered on his mother's kitchen table.]

Transcriptions by Sharon R. Becker, October of 2016

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, April 21, 2016, Page 1

Destruction of old hospital begins

The destruction of the old Ringgold County Hospital building began in earnest this week as heavy equipment began knocking down walls. The project is expected to be completed in late summer as a cost of approximately $464,000, which included destruction of the heliport/parking lot across the street.

[A delay in beginning actual demolition occurred because in Michigan, where Dore and Associates are located, there is a frost law prohibiting during certain times of the year. ~ Mount Ayr Record-News, Thursday, March 24, 2016, Page 9]

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, May of 2016

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, April 28, 2016, Page 1 & 9

Late plea can't save old clinic building
Wellness group said RCH acted in haste


The future of the old hospital facility once again comprised the bulk of discussion at the Monday, April 26 meeting of the Ringgold County Hospital Board of Directors.

. . . .Brad and Abby Elliott, representing the Ringgold County Wellness Center Committee, appeared before the board.

. . . . Board member Mike Hopkins stated the old hospital had sat vacant for seven years, and he did not fell the decision to demolish the facility was made in haste. He said no one during that time had stepped forward to express interest in the facility. . . .

[Editor's note: The discussion concerning the future of the old Mount Ayr Medical Clinis building has become moot as the morning following the meeting contractors knocked a hole in the roof of the clinic building.]

On Tuesday, demolition of the old hospital clinic building began, the day after a late plea from some community members to save that portion of the old hospital was made to Ringgold County Hospital Board of Directors.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, May of 2016

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, May 19, 2016, Pages 1 & 9

RCH board asked to save lot
Elliott offers $15,500; board will consider

A late plea to save the old medical clinic building was unsuccessful, but some haven't given up on at least saving the old parking lot at the former site of the Ringgold County Hospital.

The Ringgold County Hospital Board of Directors heard from Craig Elliott of Mount Ayr at their meeting Monday evening. Elliott has offered the board $15,000 to purchase the old hospital lot and four and one-half acres of land. He says he hopes to use the property for some kind of community betterment project, undetermined at this time. The sale would be contingent on favorable approval from the Mount Ayr Zoning Commission to have the land zoned commercial and not residential.

. . . "There is $300,000 worth of concrete sitting there and there are a lot of ideas out there as to how it might be of value to the community," said Elliott.

Several ideas have been floated are to use the lot as a Veteran's Memorial site, or to someday build a Wellness Center in the area and use the lot for that purpose.

. . . . The hospital has set aside $25,000 for the destruction of the old parking lot and returning the ground to a green space. The cost could be offsett by up to $10,000 from selling the old concrete. Elliott says the hospital can save the $25,000 and pocket his $15,000.

. . . .Elliott and the board both agreed there has been a lot of "miscomminication" in the process of tearing down the old medical clinic. A group of community members approached the board at their last meeting in an effort to delay the demolition of the old clinic building, only to find the next day a large hole had been put in the clinic roof by the demolition contractor

"That was unfortunate timing," said [hospital administrator Gordon] Winkler. He said the hole was to see what process would be needed to remove insulation from the building.

. . . .Any discussion on the sale of real estate pricing would most likely be done in a closed session. . . .

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, May of 2016


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