Southern Utah News Articles
Top Stories for November 25, 2009
Residents voice concerns about PA Justin Brinkerhoff leaving Valley Medical Clinic
The Kane County Hospital conference room was overflowing November 19 with residents from Orderville, Glendale and Kanab, in a showing of support for departing Physicians Assistant Justin Brinkerhoff. He will be leaving the Valley Medical Clinic on December 11, 2009.
Chairperson Dottie Ratzlaff welcomed everyone to the monthly meeting of the Hospital Governing Board and stated agenda item #16 under other business, will be moved to the first topic to accommodate the audience.
Glendale Mayor Raleigh Franklin, acting as spokesperson for the residents, stated the people were unaware of the hospital’s decision to not renew Brinkerhoff’s contract and felt the people should have a “small” say in matters concerning their medical care.
The residents had nothing but praise concerning Brinkerhoff’s ability and that he has been a great asset to the community. Franklin said a petition with about 400 signatures would be presented to the board as a statement of disappointment with the results of the hospital’s decision.
Ratzaff thanked the residents for appearing in support for their community and medical care providers, and stated in this case there are business/legal issues that cannot be publicly discussed. Personally, she considered Justin to be a great guy and wished him well.
Medical Staff Representative Dr. Ott stated, “Justin is a great provider with great people skills. This is not about quality of care, but adherence to state and federal rules, regulations and by-laws that providers are governed by. That is all part of the job description. It is very hard on the board and administrator to make this type of decision.” Ott said he supports Brinkerhoff as a person.
As clarification, Ott said he is not an active member of the board, and not a part of the administration and does not always agree with their decisions. Ott regretfully stated that he does support the board’s decision in this matter. Ott also stated it was important to understand that some of the medical issues involved can only be handled by the individual provider, and there are certain issues that cannot be disclosed at a public meeting.
Hospital Attorney Ed Robbins stated this governing board is an elected public body dedicated to safeguard the effective administrative operations of Kane County Hospital. Robbins and Ratzaff assured the audience the executive board would review the signed petition.
Nurse Practitioner Joanne (Russell) Palmer, who is returning to the area, will replace Brinkerhoff on December 1, 2009.
An audience member questioned since there has been a number of doctors and physicians assistants working at the hospital/clinics through the years, if this area is considered to be a “pit stop.”
Laurali Noteman, Human Resources and Public Relations, reported the hospital and Orderville Medical Clinic have been approved by the National Health Service Board to participate in a low repayment student loan program. The doctors and physicians assistants come to a rural setting, serve a four-year commitment to pay off the loan, then move on. New PA Wayne Nielson will be applying for that program.
Kane County Commissioner Daniel Hulet discussed the Cedar Mountain Townsite Act providing a central location for the clinic, Cedar Mountain Fire Protection, etc. The county has reached a standstill, and how they proceed depends on the amount of property committed for purchase by those participating in the partnership.
Administrator Sherrie Pandya stated the hospital tentatively plans on one acre, but asked if it would be possible to opt out if it became necessary. The Forest Service requires just one application to purchase the land. Hulet asked if the board could come to a final decision by the December 17 meeting.
In December, Administrator Pandya and Financial Officer Stephen Howells will be appearing before the Salt Lake City Permanent Community Impact Board to obtain a grant for the needed helicopter-landing pad. Currently, it is necessary for the helicopter to land in the street between the hospital and library.
Hospital Auxiliary Business: Laurali Noteman gave an update. She met with the Auxiliary Board and discussed personnel issues and the status of volunteers versus paid employees.
Hospital Foundation Business: Noteman announced a general meeting with foundation members from the previous years is scheduled for December 23, 2009, and at that time a new board will be elected to get the Foundation up and running.
Medical staff business: Dr. Ott reiterated the importance of the staff keeping up with financial responsibility, the changes in Medicare re-imbursement, and the American Medical Society requirements, as well as quality patient care. He was anxious for the Foundation to begin seeking endowments to ease the financial burden facing the hospital.
Dr. Ott stated the H1N1 virus has slowed down some, but another peak is expected. He encouraged people at risk to get vaccinated. At present, the hospital is out, but Southwest Public Health has the vaccine available.
Nursing Department Report: Director of Nursing Rosalie Esplain stated the Nursing Department is prepared for an H1N1 Pandemic. The priority groups for receiving the H1N1 vaccine is everyone six months to 24 years, parents with children younger than six months, pregnant women, and parents/caregivers of infants under six months of age. Middle age people with constant medical problems would be next on the list.
Noteman commented on the success of the ice cream social in celebration of Rosalie Esplain’s 50 years of service to the hospital. Noteman also announced that Brenda Martinet, who just celebrated her 20th anniversary with the hospital, will be leaving the area. Her last day is November 19.
Corporate Financial Officer Stephen Howells presented the tentative budget for year ending 12/31/2010, stating it is necessary for the board to adopt the tentative budget first, before putting it on the Public Hearing Agenda for final approval.
Howells said there has been a drop in revenue in comparison to the years 2006/2007/2008. The 2010 budget reflects that trend, assuming things will continue like they have for the past year. The tentative budget for 2010 is: total revenue $9,496,832; total expenses $10,010,228; with a loss of –$523,396.
Howells explained the cost report and Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) monies received (DSH money cannot be used for capital improvements), charity write-offs and legal fees.
Becoming a Critical Care Hospital will make a huge difference in Medicare repayments. Howells stated the repayment flow of Medicare/Medicaid sometimes takes months for the hospital to receive. The sales tax monies are received quarterly.
Administrator Pandya stated there is some good news. The Internal Revenue Service has accepted the hospital’s plan of correction terminating the 401K, allowing the participants to roll their funds into a qualified plan. It can be the new 457 Retirement Plan, or a private IRA, or if they choose they can take the money out and pay the taxes accordingly. A notice will be sent to the participants with instructions as of termination date of December 28, 2009.
All the paperwork has been completed and a bid accepted for the demolition of the old house on the hospital property.