From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 5, Number 31 - October 27, 2005
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

RHCB stands firm in denial of Burnett, Turner using clinic

by Bill Boender

The Sublette County Rural Health Care Board met in Marbleton Monday, Oct. 24, at its usual time of 7:30 p.m. with all members present. Chairman Jerry Jensen announced that the regular meeting had been preceded by an executive session to discuss property purchase in Marbleton. This would appear to violate rules regarding executive sessions that require a motion in open meeting to go into executive session. There was no announcement or discussion of the results of that executive session.

As many people are aware of the property being considered and secrecy doesn't seem to be an issue, at least the spirit, if not the letter of the law, would appear to be disregarded by the board.

Sublette County Commissioner Betty Fear addressed the board with a statement representing the feelings of the Sublette County Commissioners and specifically addressed the property issue, strongly urging the board to reconsider and utilize the existing property as has been urged by many local citizens at past meetings. Fear indicated the commissioners would not support moving the clinic even though the board has the resources and legal ability to proceed as they see fit.

Fear also addressed the continuing controversy over use of the clinic facilities by doctors Burnett and Turner, asking the board to put petty vendettas and personal grievances aside and consider only what would best serve the interests of the citizens and taxpayers of Sublette County.

"This silly petty bickering has no place on a board of elected officials," Fear said.

Regarding the excuse that clinic employees had threatened to quit if Burnett and Turner were given access to the clinic, Fear advised that, "There is no business in the land that can survive very long if the employer is held hostage by the employees."

Responding for the board, Bill Barney stated that any accusation of personal animosity is false and only represents an inaccurate public perception generated in the press, to which Fear replied that, "The perception of the public is reality in spite of a possible different truth."

Jensen commented that access to the clinic is a privilege and not a right, stating that, "Our opinion is still 'no' because of all the stuff that went on."

"That left us in one hell of a hole when he quit," Barney added. Except for Board Member Garry Eiden, the board appeared unified in denying access to Burnett and Turner until they can establish a formal credential policy and address legal issues.

In spite of the fact that Burnett and Turner operated the clinic for many years and had continued emergency services after their termination, no one on the board would comment on what had changed to justify denial of access. Asked how long the approval of access process might take, Jensen said, "There is no timeframe."

During the public comment period, several citizens addressed the board with concerns about clinic access and ambulance service in cases where they want to see a physician of their choice and not be taken to the clinic. Policy in this area did not seem to be clear, but those asking were told that they could be taken to their physician of choice with the approval of clinic staff.

In other business, the hiring of two full-time emergency medical technicians was approved for the Pinedale service. This action was taken to ensure full coverage in view of problems in scheduling volunteers to fill slots. The Pinedale and Big Piney/Marbleton services will be combined under one control rather than operating as separate units. The new service will be called Sublette County EMS.

The added office space at Pinedale is still not in use due to delays in electrical changes and installation of access ramps. Director Randy Johnson advised he has been unable to find a contractor to design and build ramps and the electrical contractor has not fulfilled promises to complete the needed work. The only bid for HIPAA compliance remodeling at the Pinedale clinic was deemed excessive and additional bids will be sought.

The design architects will be here to present their latest drafts and to meet with user groups for further input on Nov. 1 and 2. A meeting with Sublette County Commissioner John Linn and retired engineer Bill Schertz is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 1, at 5:30 p.m. so that they can review design proposals and offer input.

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