From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 2, Number 42 - January 16, 2003
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Board to look at doctor recruitment and retention

by Cat Urbigkit

The Sublette County Rural Health Care District Board met Monday evening in Marbleton with the hot topic of discussion being the physicians and contracts, and recruitment of an additional doctor for the Pinedale Medical Clinic.

Board Chairman Walt Bousman suggested the board hold a special meeting in a few weeks to discuss amending the physicians' contracts to address three items: an extension of time on the contract term, soft goods inventory in the clinics and the role of the medical director.

Bousman said board attorney Ed Wood would have a draft contract amendment available this week.

Marbleton-Big Piney Clinic contracting physician Dr. David Burnett immediately took issue with the need for a special board meeting to discuss the contract extension because the extension was actually approved by the board in May 2002, but the language was never added to the existing contracts. As for the other contractual items, Burnett noted that to date there has been "no discussion" with him regarding the contents of such an amendment, even though he notified the board two months ago of the urgency involved in the issue.

Burnett said, "It's entirely inappropriate" for the board attorney to draft a contract without contacting the other party. In addition, Burnett said, "I will not be willing to discuss the particulars publicly ... without the opportunity to address the board privately."

The board agreed to have Wood contact Burnett and Pinedale's Dr. Judy Boyle to discuss the contract issues prior to holding a special meeting on Jan. 21 or 28.

Boyle discussed the need for assistance in recruiting another doctor for the Pinedale clinic. She explained that discussion at last month's board meeting might have led one to assume she was interested in the board helping to pay salary and benefits for an additional doctor, which was not her intention. Boyle said she was interested in the board developing a doctor's recruitment and retention policy in order to keep doctors available in the county for the long term.

Boyle said putting together a financial package to get another doctor in Pinedale at this time is difficult. She said while she has a doctor who is very interested, and who finds the salary offering acceptable, Boyle can't match the recruitment and retention packages offered in other areas.

The board expressed its interest in assisting the recruitment effort, with Board Member Mary Lynn Worl explaining that what was being suggested was "Trying to sweeten the pot a little bit to get a physician."

Worl noted that there are 45 job openings for physicians in the state right now, so competition for doctors may be intense.

Boyle said: "We saw 12,000 patients at the Pinedale clinic last year. I frankly need another doctor in Pinedale."

Burnett agreed "a single physician cannot handle the load, for the long-term."

Burnett noted that next year Boyle will be faced with the decision on whether to renew her contract for the clinic.

"I don't see how she can take on that contract without having another physician for help," Burnett said.

Worl said she feels the board understands the urgency, but "I think we're going to set precedent with hiring this new individual," so the board is proceeding with caution.

The board then adjourned into a 15-minute executive session to discuss the issue further, with the medical health professionals in attendance from both clinics in the county. Coming back into open session, Bousman announced that Board Member Bill Barney and Worl would form a committee to work with the doctors on developing a plan for recruitment and retention.

The board opened five sealed bids for the radio system (a base and two repeaters). There was more than a $20,000 difference from the high bid to the low bid. With three of the five bidders in attendance, the board was told by all three that the low bid (from ACS Networks of Pinedale, which wasn't represented) probably didn't meet the bid specifications set forth by the district.

Dave Smith of Dave's Electronics said, "We're not bidding on the same stuff, no way."

Jeff Alexander of Sublette Communications joined Smith in urging the board to carefully examine the bids, to be sure they are for the same product.

"I stand by my bid as written," Alexander said. His bid was the next-to-lowest bid.

ACS Networks' bid was $25,956.90, according to the board, while Sublette Communications' bid $31,347.50.

The board decided that Bousman and Board Member Jerry Jensen will examine the bids and report back

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