Wednesday, June 20, 2018
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Dentist seeks space in old clinic

Dr. Mike Hecox, son share ideas with GMH board

The Gothenburg Memorial Hospital board heard more about a proposal to remodel the old doctor’s clinic into dental and optometry space Thursday night but took no action.

Dr. Mike Hecox, a dentist with a practice in Cozad, wants the hospital to remodel a portion of the space, formerly occupied by Gothenburg Family Practice, and help buy equipment for his son, Ashton Hecox.

Ashton will graduate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Dentistry in May.

Board members heard about the plan at a special board meeting to discuss uses and renovation of the space.

Medical staff from Gothenburg Family Practice left the building, which is owned by the hospital, in February to move into an addition to GMH with more room.

New occupants of the old 4,350-square-foot clinic would lease it from the hospital. Equipment would be bought on a lease-purchase basis.

Dr. Hecox said he knows how Gothenburg wants to recruit new and young doctors and noted that his practice in Cozad isn’t big enough to support two dentists.

“And he (Ashton) wants to blaze his own trail,” Dr. Hecox said.

He and Ashton shared blueprints with the board to remodel 1,416 square feet of space. Plans could include a surgical center where oral surgery can be done.

Dr. Hecox said he refers some oral surgery, that requires sedation, to out-of-town dental surgeons.

A local dentist has expressed interest in sharing a surgery center and equipment while an optometrist from Gothenburg, who works out of town, is interested in renting space in the clinic. Neither attended the meeting.

The board discussed how they might fund such a venture with a $360,000 Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant (REDLG) Revolving Loan Fund and hospital cash reserves.

City officials have applied for, but haven’t received the REDLG loan.

As a renter, the Hecoxes would then pay back the money, loaned for the remodeling project and equipment, through rent and lease fees.

Members also talked about whether Gothenburg was large enough to support a third dentist and decided it was.

Don Graham, president of the Gothenburg Memorial Hospital Foundation board, attended the meeting to hear a request to help Ashton pay off school loans through a low-interest loan from the foundation.

Since the request doesn’t fit the criteria of what the foundation does, Graham said the foundation board would have to discuss it.

Dr. Hecox said he and his accountant would have to look at what the hospital board might offer.

The board directed hospital chief financial officer Taci Bartlett to check with accountants to see if the proposal could be funded as discussed.

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