Southern Utah News Articles
Top Stories for July 22, 2009
Employees file claim against hospital for losses of benefits
The Governing Board of the Kane County Hospital held a public meeting on July 16, 2009. Chairperson Dottie Ratzlaff brought the meeting to order.
Two Kane County Hospital employees, Lori Ramsay and Dan Smalling, filed a Notice of Claim under the Utah Governmental Immunity Act against the Kane County Human Resource Special Service District (the hospital) for failure to reasonably and competently establish a retirement plan for employees of the hospital as required by the statutes of the State of Utah.
The controversy stems back to 1993 when the hospital made the original decision to provide retirement benefits for its employees, through the John Hancock Company 401K program. The claim states the hospital failed to comply with the requirements of the statutes of the State of Utah in establishing the program. The claim also states the claimants face the prospect of adverse action by the Internal Revenue service with regard to past and future tax benefits.
Both the claimants and the hospital have sought legal advise from Salt Lake City attorneys to help resolve the issue.
Kane County Hospital Administrator Sherrie Pandya stated a budget amendment and adjustment is required to allow for the any legal fees regarding the pension plan issues.
An action item on the agenda: Proposals for the Hospitals 457 Retirement Plan. The 457- retirement plans, also known as deferred compensation plans, are designed for state and municipal workers and employees of some tax-exempt organizations. The hospital, as a Special Service District, falls within this category.
The plan has rules set by tax codes. An employee can contribute a portion of their salary to a retirement account. That money and any earnings accumulated are not taxed until the employee withdraws them.
Pandya said the finance committee met and went over the features of the proposed plans. The proposals have been narrowed down to three. Representatives/agents are scheduled to give their presentations for the boards review. The plans are basically the same but offer different features and options.
Two plans were presented at the July 16 meeting. Hospital Attorney Ed Robbins, panel members and employees Ramsay and Smalling asked questions about the benefits to the employees. A third presentation will be scheduled for a future date.
To prevent any conflict of interest, board member Shayne Ramsay (Lori’s husband) was excused from participating and voting on any employee retirement plan issues and discussions.
In the absence of Commissioner Dan Hulet, Pandya explained their meeting with Sunrise Engineering concerning the Cedar Mountain Townsite Act to provide services to that area. The participants include the school district, the Western Kane County Special Service District, Water Conservancy District, Kane County, Cedar Mountain Fire Protection and the hospital.
The cost of $100,000 an acre was deemed too high, especially for land adjacent to the sewer plant that is need of repair (the sewer pipes are leaking). The Forest Service will appoint someone from the government to do a new appraisal.
Pandya clarified the issues of obligations to purchase the land; cost of studies etc. is needed before continuing with the proposal. Pandya said in talking with Representative Mike Noel, his comments on similar projects “up there” were, sometimes it takes as long as ten years for the Forest Service and the government to make a decision. If this project takes longer than a couple years, approaching the Senate for action may be necessary. Pandya stated as long as isn’t costing money to the hospital they would participate.
Kathleen Salter, Chairperson of the Kane County Hospital Foundation presented the foundation’s by-laws. Member Karen Alvey had some questions about the definition of a quorum, monthly meetings and the executive committee. Both Salter and Alvey made suggestions. It was decided to make the necessary changes and re-submit the amended by-laws for approval at the board’s next meeting.
Rosalie Esplin, Director of Nursing stated two new RNs have been recruited. Wenda Johnson and Mindy Luther, both are graduates of Mojave College.
Laurali Noteman, of Human Resources and Public Relations stated the Kane County Hospital information web site has been developed. A section for articles has been added. Anything submitted to the newspaper by the hospital will also appear on the web site. There will be articles on employee highlights and Emergency Department Preparedness.
Information submitted by Southwest Utah Public Health Dept. was re-published on the web site about Travel Education and Immunizations in southern Utah. Noteman stated two thank-you notes from patients have recently been received via the Internet. To access the web site: www.KaneCountyHospital.net.
Employee Debbie Gilllespie will be coordinating the hospital’s participation in the local emergency preparedness event scheduled for August 25 at the high dchool.
According to Noteman, the hospital sent three employees to the Utah Collision of Special Assault classes held at the library. Medical Assistants Cynthia Noteman, Kim Snedger and Suzanne Evans completed forty hours of training to become certified. The hospital paid their wages while in training, the Domestic Violence Commission paid for their tuitions. Two other Hospital employees, Sandy Young and Jennifer Black, attended classes at their own expense and were certified. Noteman added the hospital now has some good on staff training capabilities.
Stephen Howells, Corporate Finance Officer reported the financial status for the month of June was a little bit better than the two previous months.
Administrators Report: Charity Care Policy – the limits have been expanded to 250% for a 20% discount and 300% for 15% discount. Pandya said “we are getting a number of people who cannot pay their bills, but do not qualify under the present guidelines. Instead of writing these off to bad debt, if we apply it to charity care we will get some reimbursement from the Disproportionate Share Payment (DSH) monies.”
The Utah Department of Health Tour by Dr. Sundwall, Mike Hales, John Curless and Deborah Turner is scheduled for Monday July 20. Mike Noel and Dennis Stowell have been invited.
The Daniel Swapp family donated stuffed animals for the children who come to the emergency room.
There are five people who have applied for the three seats on the Hospital Governing Board. Debrah Fox Shayne Ramsay, Gene Drake Carol Sullivan and Josh Adams. Names will be placed on the November 2009 ballot.