From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 5, Number 1 - March 31, 2005
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

No after-hours emergency care in Piney after April 15

by Bill Boender

The Sublette County Rural Health Care District Board met Monday, March 28, in Pinedale with Walt Bousman absent. The board continued discussions of growing county health care problems, needs and possible solutions. Solutions do not appear to be keeping pace with added problems.

Dr. David Burnett of the Marbleton-Big Piney Clinic attended the meeting again and presented a letter notifying the board that he would no longer be able to provide after-hours emergency care after April 15 due to the resignations of three of his staff members.

A separate letter from the Wyoming Range Medical Group offered to work with the board to provide such services as they are able to handle. Burnett strongly advised the board that they need to retain someone to staff the clinic and maintain several pieces of key equipment that should not be left idle. A final inventory of equipment and supplies at the Marbleton clinic will be scheduled for the week of April 11.

The board agreed to pursue the hiring of temporary staffing and to try to retain any existing employees who wish to stay. In the absence of a medical director, the board appeared committed to handling the clinic operation themselves although no decision has been made as to the direction they will take regarding new construction or hiring of new physicians.

The possibility of a single clinic for the county seems to still be under consideration. Board Member Bill Barney stated: "The situation is so fluid it's hard to know what direction we'll take. There are many ideas wandering around to be considered."

After some discussion, the board agreed to form a doctor search committee which will include Barney and Board Member Garry Eiden along with community members Scott Mackie, Bobbi Wade and Joan Mitchell. Emergency medical technician Geneal Bailey will represent that group on the committee. No timeframe for an initial meeting was established.

The status of the Big Piney/ Marbleton EMT Service management was discussed and Chairman Jerry Jensen confirmed that Dr. Alex Constantides of the Pinedale Medical Clinic had been approached about taking on that position. The need to address insurance needs to cover that change was also reviewed, as the current coverage under Dr. Judith Boyle is for the Pinedale service only.

The board then went into executive session to discuss personnel issues with Wil Gay and Andy McGinnis of the Pinedale EMS. Jensen reconvened the meeting after 30 minutes, stating that no action had been taken.

Eiden brought two questions to the board for discussion and clarification. The first was the recently signed maintenance contract where there seems to be no consensus regarding the scope of the work covered. Eiden asked that there be some clarification of the items which are or are not covered. Pat Pfister of Pinedale, the unsuccessful contract bidder, objected to the award suggesting a conflict of interest with a board member and complaining about the vague nature of the bid request.

The second item brought up by Eiden concerned a county commissioner's request to him that the RHCD board make some decision regarding the new Pinedale ambulance barn so that the commissioners might proceed with their commitment to Tip Top Search and Rescue regarding a facility.

The board discussed possible placement of the ambulance barn on the clinic property and asked that the architect prepare a new design and site plan which would place the barn on the northwest corner rather than to the east side as originally proposed. The new plan is expected to be available before the next commissioners meeting.

Barney commented that it seemed inappropriate to proceed based on pressure to do something without an overall plan in place. Eiden responded that the commissioners are tired of no action on the part of the health care board and will do something regardless of what the board decides.

The request by Boyle for additional temporary office space was again discussed, with three options presented for consideration. The matter was again tabled until more information can be gathered regarding costs and timing for the various options which include both purchase and rental proposals.

In other business, the board approved the seasonal hiring of one intermediate level EMT for the summer months in both Pinedale and Marbleton. A request by the new director, Randall Johnson, to hire a person to serve as his secretary and to assist Juana McGinnis in office activities was approved. Due to crowding at the ambulance barn, the board will seek rental living quarters for new hires and temporary employees in both Pinedale and Marbleton.

The heliport in Marbleton is still inoperable at night and attempts to have the installing contractor address the problem have been unsuccessful. Another contractor, Mike Olson of Marbleton, will be asked to assess the situation and propose a solution to the lighting problems.

The next meeting will be held at Marbleton on Monday, April 11, at 7:30 p.m.

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