Volume 3, Number 16 - July 17, 2003
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RHCD budgets $5.16 million
Tuesday night's Sublette County Rural Health Care District Board budget hearing in Pinedale made for a few surprises after the controversy-filled meeting the evening before.
It was obvious that several board members had spent time between the sessions to do their homework and develop alternatives for addressing the parity issue, with one result being Marbleton-Big Piney Clinic contracting physician Dr. David Burnett attending the session, despite his pledge the night before not to do so. When all was said and done, Burnett's high-priority items were all funded in the final budget.
Board Member Bill Barney began the negotiations by suggesting that the board add a blanket warmer ($4,584) and peripheral blood pressure monitor ($22,000) to the Marbleton clinic's equipment budget, while removing the lower-priority phone system ($12,000) from the Marbleton clinic budget, bringing that budget total to $94,412.
The second part of Barney's proposal was to remove the heel scanner ($11,500) and tympanogram ($3,000) from the Pinedale clinic equipment budget, bringing that clinic's equipment total to $94,702, or only about $300 difference from the Marbleton budget.
Barney said his proposal would keep the two clinics' equipment budgets nearly the same.
Board Member Mary Lynn Worl said while she has no problem with the fact that more money has been spent at the Marbleton clinic over the last few years than what has been spent in Pinedale, she wouldn't vote to support Barney's proposal because it would deduct from Pinedale's budget.
Worl said for capital outlays in the last five years, the board has spent $125,289 more in the Marbleton clinic than its Pinedale counterpart.
Board Chairman Walt Bousman presented an alternative to Barney's proposal. He proposed that the Pinedale budget remain unchanged, but add to the Marbleton budget the cost of the blood pressure monitor, blanket warmer and floor scale, resulting in a difference between the two equipment budgets of $2,790.
Worl said she spoke to a nurse in the Pinedale clinic about the usefulness of a blanket warmer.
"Even though Pinedale has not requested one, if there is some money available," Worl said the board should look at purchasing a similar item for Pinedale.
Barney said he is very concerned about adding budget items that are not critical for emergency care. Barney said his goal was to provide "reasonable equality and keep the costs down." He said, "I don't believe we should be frivolous."
Board member Garry Eiden questioned the remaining board members, "What's wrong with Walt's proposal?"
Burnett told the board, "I could live with either proposal," but added he wanted to clarify the record about capital outlays at the clinics. He said recent expenditures totaling about $60,000 were for remodeling the emergency medical technician trailer located next to the Marbleton clinic, while other funding went for the construction of the ambulance bay. He said while Worl cited figures for five years, "the overall picture is different ... it's a far greater discrepancy (between clinics) in the last 15 years."
Barney made the motion to adopt Bousman's proposal, which Eiden seconded. The item was discussed more, and Barney called for the vote, which was unanimously approved.
The board then moved on to other budget items, including discussing the proposed $1,980 overhead heater for the ambulance bay.
Board Member JerryJensen questioned the need for heating the ambulance bay, stating that hospitals like Jackson don't have heated bays. Burnett responded that more comfortable space for loading and unloading chronic lung and heart patients is better for them, and added that the bay was built for controlling wind and ice, and to provide a more comfortable situation for patients.
Barney noted that the heater was one of the higher priorities for the EMTs. Worl said she doesn't understand why the heat wasn't requested when the bay was originally constructed.
Barney made the motion to fund the heater, which Jensen seconded. Only Worl voted against the expenditure.
After nearly two hours of making revisions to the budget Tuesday night, the board heard no public comment at its hearing and voted unanimously to adopt the budget, with its grand total of $5,167,757, which includes all the district's expenditures and reserves.
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