From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 2, Number 44 - January 30, 2003
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Physicians' contract extension

by Cat Urbigkit

Although the Sublette County Rural Health Care District Board was scheduled to hold a special meeting Tuesday evening in Marbleton to discuss an addendum to the physicians' contracts, that meeting was cancelled on Monday.

According to the special meetings notice sent out by the district, "This meeting is subject to cancellation if the circulated draft meets everyone's approval," meaning both the physicians and the board members.

But a draft circulated last week didn't meet the approval of Dr. David Burnett. The board had previously agreed to offer a one-year contract extension to the county's two contracting physicians, so that was included in the draft addendum proposed by the district, as were several other clauses that hadn't been agreed to previously.

Burnett wasn't happy that the already-agreed-to contract extension was included with more controversial issues on which he didn't agree.

Burnett pointed to a clause in the draft addendum which mandates that the contracting physician be the director of the emergency medical services, yet proposed to compensate the contracting physician only for the increase in malpractice insurance caused by this added responsibility.

In an interview, Burnett said being the medical director of a paid EMS service brings not just the increased liability insurance cost, but also increased liabilities and responsibilities as well.

Burnett said he felt the contracting physicians, if they agreed to take on the responsibility of being the EMS medical director, should receive some compensation for this additional responsibility. In addition, taking on the directorship should be voluntary and not a mandate of the contract for the clinic, he said.

The board has yet to discuss the issue with the emergency medical technicians in the county even though the EMS services have clauses in their bylaws that allow the services to select their own medical director.

Burnett noted that the medical director of the Sublette Center receives a set amount per month for the task, and Dr. J. Thomas Johnston, as the county's public health officer, receives a certain monthly pay for his service as well.

The draft addendum also addressed the soft goods inventory at the clinic and the equipment inventory as well.

The existing written contracts for Dr. Judy Boyle and Burnett extend through June 30 of this year, but the oral extensions offered by the board means the contracts expire June 30 next year. The addendum includes an automatic two-year renewal until one party gives written 90-day notice of their intention of terminating the contract.

Contacted Monday evening, RHCD Board Chairman Walt Bousman said the meeting was cancelled because Boyle wasn't going to be able to attend the session. Boyle couldn't be reached for comment on her views on the contract addendum.

Bousman said the issue would be discussed at the board's next regular meeting, slated for Feb. 10 in Pinedale.

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