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Making Pocahontas County stronger

Pocahontas Community Hospital renovates clinic, adds provider in 2023-24

POCAHONTAS — Going to a doctor’s office at the clinic attached to Pocahontas Community Hospital has a different look and feel to it.

The clinic, built in 1995, was the site of a $2 million renovation job that is wrapping up.

“It’s really nice,” said James Roetman, chief executive officer of the hospital. “We moved into about two-thirds of it and we should be into the entire clinic by the end of March.”

He said the project added about 30 percent more space. It also created wider doorways and corridors to make the area more handicapped accessible.

Beginning in August, a new podiatrist, Dr. Robert Ivey, will begin seeing patients there. He will work in Pocahontas and Storm Lake.

“That’s big news when a rural hospital can recruit a new provider like that,” Roetman said.

Pocahontas County became one of the first counties in Iowa to make emergency medical services a tax-supported essential service when voters approved of that by a roughly 78 percent majority during the November 2022 general election. The voters approved a property tax of 21 cents per $1,000 of taxable value and 1 percent income tax to support EMS. The current fiscal year was the first one in which that revenue started flowing in.

“It’s going great,” Roetman said. “We’re finding ways to make our EMS in Pocahontas County stronger.”

Some of that money will be used to increase staffing. Some of it will also be used to buy equipment. Roetman said a plan has been devised to keep the ambulance fleet up to date by buying a new one every three years. The first new one has been ordered and is expected to be delivered in the spring of 2025.

The leadership of Pocahontas Community Hospital has also found itself leading community discussions about the future of nursing home care in that city.

The Pocahontas Manor Care Center located north of the hospital on Iowa Highway 4 closed in the spring of 2023. The hospital board voted to purchase the property.

Roetman said the hospital board is committed to talking about the nursing home situation.

The 25,000-square-foot nursing home was built in 1970. Roetman said two architects have inspected it and have advised that it is not suitable for renovation.

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