From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 2, Number 24 - September 12, 2002
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

New health care board begins work

by Cat Urbigkit

The Sublette County Rural Health Care District Board meeting held Monday evening in Marbleton had the old board go out, with new board members being seated for their first session.

But before the retiring board members called a halt to their public service, they joined the newly elected board members in an executive session, which retiring chairman Dave Racich said was to discuss a personnel issue that was also discussed in executive session at the board's last meeting. When the meeting was reopened about 20 minutes later, the board reported no action was taken.

Newly elected board member Bill Barney was not in attendance, but the other two new board members took over: Mary Lynn Worl and Jerry Jensen. These new board members join Walt Bousman and Garry Eiden Sr. on the board.

Dave Racich, Bob Dew and Jim Greenwood stepped down from the board after offering their words of advice to their counterparts.

Racich reminded the board to keep in mind that the clinics should be turn-key operations. He suggested they consider what inventory is needed to operate the clinics for a 24- or 48-hour period in the event of an emergency and have this inventory a required provision in the physician's contracts.

That brought the discussion around to the board's action at its last meeting in paying Dr. David Burnett $32,000 for a portion of the inventory he maintains in the Marbleton/Big Piney clinic.

Bousman, Greenwood and Racich said it needs to be made clear to the doctors that the inventory the board has paid for is not a certain amount of goods rather than a certain amount of money. For example, it would include a certain number of gauze pads, which may cost the doctor $10 now, but $20 in five years.

Eiden asked if Dr. Judy Boyle of the Pinedale Medical Clinic was aware that the inventory she is required to have in the clinic may cost her more in a few years, to which Bousman responded, "That's the privilege of working in our clinics."

Dew pointed out that a portion of that inventory will consist of dated goods or drugs and this issue needs to be addressed in some way as well.

Bousman said the purpose of the inventory was to explain the type and the number of goods the board was purchasing and "that was the impression at the last meeting of what we were buying." He said Burnett had written a letter stating his view was that the physician was to have a dollar-for-dollar value, not item-for-item value. The board tabled the issue until its next meeting so that Burnett could be in attendance.

Before leaving the meeting, Greenwood provided final comments for the new board. He said when elected to the board four years ago, he was "pretty hard-nosed" with his views, but he had learned a lot and found that "we have a pretty good system here in Sublette County ... We're a lucky community."

Greenwood reminded the board that the purpose of the district is to provide emergency health care around the clock "and everything else is gravy."

When it came time to elect the new officer slate, Worl and Jensen made a successful motion to have Bousman serve as chairman. Noting that "since he ain't here," Eiden made a motion to elect Barney as vice chairman, which Jensen seconded and all voted in favor of.

When Jensen made a motion to elect Worl as the board's secretary/treasurer, Worl politely but firmly declined to accept the nomination. Worl noted that with her being the only woman on the board, the nomination in effect would place the woman in the typical female role.

"I simply won't accept the nomination," Worl said, adding that she didn't want to set such a precedent. Worl pledged to work very hard on the board and to accept an officer slot at some time in the future.

Eiden then made a motion to appoint Jensen to the secretary/treasurer slot, to which Worl seconded. The vote was successful.

Attention then turned to the problem with the radio repeater system and what sort of radio communications system the board should approve for the district. At the board's last meeting, Pinedale emergency medical technician Kati Richins, who also works in dispatch for the Sublette County Sheriff's Department, said she had received three bids for a new system. Richins recommended the board accept the bid from a Shoshoni man, even though Dave Smith of Pinedale had the low bid for the same system. Richins also criticized Jeff Alexander's Sublette Communications both in a letter to the board and at that board's last meeting. When asked about Richins' criticisms of Alexander, SCSD officials denied her allegations and provided a rebuttal in a letter to the Examiner that was printed in last week's paper.

Neither of the three men who provided cost estimates for the new radio system had attended the board's last meeting, but Smith and Alexander were both in attendance at Monday's meeting, though Richins was not.

Smith told the board that the system requirements were not specified when the men were asked to submit bids, so a fair comparison couldn't be made. With the difference in the bids of about $30,000, the problem was apparent.

Smith suggested that a person with a technical background, such as those who make a living in serving in a technical communications capacity help the district come up with the specifications, "not people who talk on radios."

Smith suggested the board first determine what the district's needs are before coming up with specifications and requesting bids.

Alexander thanked the board for hosting the meeting to allow the issue to be discussed again. He noted that he has held the contract for maintenance of the district's radio systems for 13 years, and he currently is providing a loaner repeater without charge to the district.

"I think I have provided you a pretty good service over the last 13 years," Alexander said.

Alexander spoke about his experience, including serving on several state commissions addressing issues such as the future of radio communications and the integration of radio systems between agencies.

"Nobody knows how to integrate a radio system better than I do," Alexander said. He said discussion of technical problems wasn't of concern to him, but what bothered him was what he viewed as a "personal attack on my services," which he had read about in the Examiner's reporting of the board's August meeting. Alexander said Richins had left a message on his answering machine offering an apology, which he viewed as an apology for getting caught.

"I think I sort of got ambushed and that's putting it kindly," Alexander said.

The board decided to confer with other county agencies in determining what system the district should move toward in the future, with compatibility between the agencies a goal. Bousman said he hopes by the board's next meeting to have an idea of what system the district should go with.

Meanwhile, Alexander reminded the board that his radio maintenance contract had expired at the first of July. Yet it's Alexander's loaner repeater the district is currently using without charge "because I assumed the responsibility and the obligation" to keep a repeater working, he said, even without a contract. The board agreed to sign Alexander's contract, retroactive to July 1. The contract has a 30-day-out clause that can be enacted by either party. The contract provides for the board to pay $312 per month for Sublette Communications to provide maintenance services for the district's radios.

The board's next meeting will be held in Pinedale on Oct. 14. Expected to be on the agenda for that meeting is the Pinedale Emergency Medical Service's request that the service's supervisor be elected by the EMTs rather than appointed by the board, and the proposed policy and procedures manual.

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