Huntersville Family Fitness & Aquatic reports budget victory
HUNTERSVILLE – Carolinas Healthcare System will strengthen its presence in the Lake Norman area when it opens a 24-7, stand-alone emergency department at its NorthCross Center, at 16455 Statesville Road.
Bill Leonard, president of Carolinas Medical Center-University and supervisor for the NorthCross Center, came to the Huntersville town board Monday night to invite them to a groundbreaking Thursday for the future $8.8 million emergency department. Carolinas Healthcare expects to open the 17,000-square-foot facility next fall.
Such freestanding, around-the-clock emergency departments are an innovative way to provide comprehensive medical care to a community year round without requiring them to travel to a hospital, Leonard told the Herald Weekly Tuesday. About 200 currently operate around the country, and Carolinas Healthcare’s first emergency department in Steele Creek has proven a “huge success” with residents in the Lake Wylie area, Leonard said. “Utilization has far exceeded projections,” he added.
The Lake Norman-area emergency department will serve as the “clinical anchor” to other services Carolinas Healthcare already offers at its NorthCross Center, Leonard said. Currently, the system operates an out-patient surgery and endoscopy center, a pain management clinic and a sleep lab. Those centers will continue operating during construction.
OrthoCarolina and Southlake Pediatrics also have offices there, but those practices will be moving to other nearby facilities, Leonard said. Those practices will send letters to all their patients about the changes, he added.
“CMC-NorthCross is modeled after similar ‘healthcare pavilions’ created by (Carolinas Healthcare System) to serve patients in other Charlotte-area communities,” a news release said.
The new full-service emergency department will always have a physician trained in emergency medicine on staff, along with nurses and emergency room technicians. The staff will have 24-hour “imaging” capability, with CT scanner, ultrasound, X-ray, mammography and a mobile MRI.
The emergency department also will have 24-hour laboratory and pharmacy services.
“This is all part of our plans to increase our presence in the Lake Norman area,” Leonard said. “With a 24-hour emergency department, we’re going to be able to take care of everyone completely, from infants (with Southlake) to older patients at Huntersville Oaks.”
Huntersville Family Fitness & Aquatic budget
Before Monday night’s regular meeting, Dee Jetton, director of the town’s sports fitness center, reviewed the center’s finances for the 2009-10 fiscal year and reported the center made a “budgetary profit” of $8,521.
Even though the center fell 4.65 percentage points short of its revenue goal, the staff cut expenses by 5 percentage points to keep the budget bottom line in the black. The center cut expenses by rebidding contracts for pest control, pool chemicals and paper products, Jetton’s report said. It also reduced the maintenance payroll and saves on cleaning services by taking that job in-house, Jetton said.
The center also “set new records for participation across events, membership activities and programs,” her report said.
The center, however, still needed $390,761 of the town’s hotel and motel tax revenues, but that’s $133,875 – or 26 percent – less than the center got from the town last year. But Huntersville commissioners disagree about whether that’s a problem or a good use of those tourism dollars.
Commissioner Ron Julian credited the center staff with “exceeding their goals in bad times.” Though the center still depends on the hotel-motel tax, Julian said the tax is designed to promote tourism in a town, and the aquatic center hosted world-class competitive events last year.
But Commissioner Charles Jeter objected to the report’s claim of any sort of profit. Not only is the center still taking about a third of the town’s hotel-motel tax, it’s also never made enough money to pay back any of the town’s $5 million debt on the center, Jeter said.
“I’m not suggesting that it’s not an asset to the town,” Jeter said. “It is, but it’s just not accurate to say it made any kind of profit. It’s like saying you’re doing fine but you don’t pay your mortgage and your parents give you enough to get by.”