From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 3, Number 7 - May 15, 2003
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

RHCD minutes, parity discussed

by Cat Urbigkit

Although Dr. David Burnett of the Marbleton-Big Piney Clinic wasn't in attendance at Monday evening's Rural Health Care District Board meeting in Marbleton, his concern with the board meeting minutes was subject to considerable discussion.

Last month, in an interview with the Examiner, Burnett raised the issue of editorializing in the minutes and said so long as the issue remains unresolved, he didn't intend to attend and participate in board meetings.

Monday night, Board Chairman Walt Bousman began the discussion about the minutes. At issue was a statement after the Jan. 21 special meeting to discuss physician recruitment and retention that said, "While Dr. Boyle tried to focus on her issue at hand, she was overshadowed by Dr. Burnett's promotion for retroactive parity."

Bousman said when he read the minutes, he felt they were accurate, although the wording was strong. Bousman suggested the board amend the minutes to "make it politically correct."

Board Vice Chairman Bill Barney disagreed with Bousman, stating, "I think that statement was inaccurate." Barney said he raised the idea of retroactive parity and he spent a considerable about of time questioning Dr. Darcy Turner about the issue during that meeting.

"This representation is, in fact, inaccurate," Barney said, moving to strike that sentence from the minutes.

Board Member Mary Lynn Worl said when she read the minutes she felt the wording was rather strong, but also said she was upset by the way in which the workshop had proceeded and had in fact followed the guest speaker out the door to apologize to her about it.

Worl said she felt the discussion had been dominated by certain parties in the audience, and felt the minutes had strong wording, but certainly was somewhat reflective of what had occurred at the meeting.

Board Member Jerry Jensen said he agreed with Worl, and while "the wording probably is a little harsh," the meeting could have been better handled by the board.

Bousman asked, "Would it be politically correct" to amend the wording in the minutes to say something about "due to the disruptive nature of those in attendance?" Turner interjected, telling the board it is their job to keep their meetings in line. Turner said that at the special meeting, a board member was questioning him and he was providing answers, yet was interrupted by others, including board members, several times.

Worl said she disagreed with the use of the word disruptive, but said the wording could be changed to reflect that the guest speaker had been interrupted.

"She was dominated by people in the audience wanting to express their opinions. ..." Worl said.

The board agreed to strike the sentence at issue from the minutes, then went on to briefly discuss Burnett's request that the physicians and emergency medical services be allowed to review the meeting minutes before the minutes are finalized. Bousman suggested that one option would be to publish the unofficial minutes so that the board could make any needed changes before the minutes are finalized.

Barney said having unofficial and official minutes could be confusing, and suggested the issue be tabled until next month's meeting. The board agreed.

Tuner broached the subject of the newspaper quoting Board Member Jerry Jensen as stating that the addition for the Pinedale Medical Clinic is a higher priority than an addition for the Marbleton clinic, and asked whether that was his personal view or the board's view.

Jensen said, "They didn't print the whole thing, as usual." Jensen said it's his view that the clinics and ambulance services are higher-priority funding items than mental health services when it comes to district money.

Last week's Examiner did accurately quote Jensen as stating just that. Three paragraphs later in the same article, it was noted that when Commission Gordon Johnston asked if the district planned to expand the Marbleton clinic as well as the Pinedale clinic, Jensen said: "It might be both of them, but right now the priority is Pinedale."

Turner responded that the priority should be on the Marbleton end, with its greater need and more visiting physicians using that clinic: "The Marbleton clinic should have priority."

Worl noted that the Pinedale clinic is equally busy and said that when the board looks to prioritize projects, it needs to look at the staff and the number of patients using each clinic.

Board Member Garry Eiden Sr. took issue with the discussion stating, "I didn't know there was a difference" between one end of the county or the other, since this is a countywide health care district.

Barney agreed, stating, "I have a problem with this whole discussion," noting that one clinic shouldn't be prioritized over the other.

"I think arguments in a forum like this are counterproductive," Barney said, to which other board members agreed.

Barney said the board has a responsibility to look at the issues honestly and to assess projects and choose which to take on first, and which projects will follow.

Turner then questioned the legality of the $40,000 loan to be provided for a new physician to work in the Pinedale clinic with Dr. Judy Boyle.

Barney responded that attorney Ed Wood had advised the board that so long as the loan is tied to the clinic contract, the loan incentive is legal.

Turner questioned whether such a program was retroactive, adding, "If I were to not work for a certain period of time, would I be eligible?"

Barney said the program is not retroactive, and Worl explained that the board set up guidelines or criteria for the program that could be assessed when new hires are proposed at either clinic. Critereia includes funds availability, current interest rate and the potential for the individual to remain in the community.

"If you left and were to come back ... we could go through the same process," Worl said.

Barney said one thing the board would look at is "will the individual stay?"

Turner said, "I chose to come to this community ... I didn't have anybody paying me $40,000 to come here."

Turner was corrected that the $40,000 wasn't payment, but a loan.

Barney said if such an item was the deciding factor for the individual, "If anybody employed in the medical facilities and disciplines in this county, if that's a critical issue to them, they maybe ought to be looking someplace else. We do appreciate that you came here ... I guess my personal feeling is, I hope we never have this conversation again."

Jensen said no one should get the idea that a $40,000 loan will be offered to every new hire, because things could change.

Turner later said he posed the question about the loan to help clarify the issue, adding he has no intention of leaving the community.

In other business, the board instituted a change in policy for stand-by ambulance services at community events. While board policy the last few years had school district events exempt from being charged a fee, some non-profit events being charged $100 per event, plus $5-per-mile round trip, and private entities charged $150 plus the mileage, the board changed the policy Monday evening. The board decided that stand-by ambulance service would be provided free of charge to any non-profit organization carrying out public events in Sublette County that are for the benefit of the public.

The board has scheduled a budget workshop for May 20 at 7:30 p.m. in the Marbleton Fire Hall.

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