There will be a meeting at New River Medical Center Thursday at 6:15 p.m. to discuss issues related to the bonds arising from the transfer of management of the property to CentraCare. The regular meeting of the hospital district board will convene at 6:30 p.m. The lease agreement and the affiliation agreement approved at the last meeting of the board comes into effect April 1. There will be an information meeting for the public Mar. 21 at 7 p.m. at the hospital. CentraCare will take over responsibility for the community hospital April 1 and the name will be changed (yet again), to CentraCare Health Monticello. The hospital will continue to serve patients from the entire hospital district and throughout the region. Interim CEO Mary Ellen Wells will become the Chief Administrator with the signing of the final affiliation agreement and lease agreement Thursday. Wells, who has a wealth of experience, was formerly CEO of the Buffalo Hospital and worked for Allina for 17 years. The NRMC Board of Directors will remain as lease holders of the property until 2016, at which time CentraCare may elect to purchase the property for the sum of $2 million, which will be paid into a community fund. However, whether or not CentraCare purchases New River Medical Center, they have agreed to invest over $60 million in the hospital in the next 10 years. As part of the agreement, CentraCare has agreed to make the bond payments on the facility, totaling $16.3 million, which is currently the responsibility of the taxpayers in the hospital district. The hospital district encompasses the cities and townships of Big Lake and Monticello, Otsego, Becker and Silver Creek. This year taxpayer contributions to the hospital district total $300,000. Under the proposed plan with CentraCare, this burden on local property tax payers will be lifted and CentraCare assumes responsibility for staffing, repaying the bonds and providing healthcare services for the community. The change in management-and potentially ownership-of the New River Medical Center building was stimulated by a significant downturn in the number of people using the hospital after physicians of the Monticello Clinic, which is located on site, began refering their patients to other hospitals. The decrease in revenue speeded the process, which was already underway, under the leadership of former CEO Marshall Smith. The number of community hospitals like New River Medical Center is on the decline statewide as the expenses of maintaining a competitive healthcare facility continue to rise. Last year, a committee comprised of board members, community members and hospital staff considered six different health care providers to partner with New River Medical Center to continue to provide healthcare services in the community. Mayo Clinic and Sanford were ruled out because of location. Allina and North Memorial Hospital were also ruled out after further investigation, leaving Fairview and CentraCare. After further consideration, the committee recommended CentraCare. Once the lease agreement and the affiliation agreement are signed, CentraCare, which has been managing the hospital since Jan. 1, will take full charge April 1.