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"We are trying to build the rural healthcare center of the future": Tri-County Hospital looking to purchase fairgrounds to build new hospital


by Trinity Gruenberg

Much information was presented with little discussion on Tuesday, April 2 at the Karvonen Funeral Home. 

The meeting, comprised of Tri-County Health Care, the Wadena County Fair Board, the Wadena City Council and the Wadena County Commissioners, moderated by Matt Van Bruggen, was held to discuss Tri-County Health Care's (TCHC) plans to purchase the Wadena County Fairgrounds and build a new healthcare facility.

The informational meeting drew a large crowd of curious visitors with many wondering what would happen to the county fair should this plan come to fruition. 

Tri-County Health Care CEO Joel Beiswenger presented information to the public  explaining why they are looking to build a new facility. 

“I’m excited about the interest that has generated in the community,” said Beiswenger.

Some background about TCHC is this it is not government owned. They are a private, not for profit organization with a board of 11 members.

“Our name describes who we serve, the residents of Todd, Wadena and Otter Tail counties. And we take that responsibility seriously,” explained Beiswenger. 

They do not receive any tax subsidies. They rely on revenues and donations on their non-profit status. TCHC employs 450 people and 151 volunteers.

TCHC operates on a $65 million operating budget every year with two-thirds of that going towards staff wages.

“That’s 65 percent, constituting $35 million per year. That’s a huge economic influence in the community. Tri-County is a big economic driver in the Wadena area and Tri-County region,” said  Beiswenger.

TCHC is the sixth largest taxpayer in Wadena County, even though they are tax exempt, their clinics are not. Their revenue includes 50 percent from Medicare. Providers don’t pay enough to cover all the cost and TCHC loses approximately eight percent on every dollar from Medicare, and 23 percent on Medicaid. 

“Three-quarters of our business we lose money on,” explained Beiswenger.

Around two percent of patients have no insurance and the majority will end up being charity cases for the hospital. The remainder comes from commercial insurance such as Blue Cross and Medica.

Beiswenger said that a new facility or major additions will not increase healthcare costs. . . .

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