From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 5, Number 42 - January 12, 2006
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Health care board discusses Pinedale clinic conversion

by Bill Boender

The Sublette County Rural Health Care Board met Monday, Jan. 9, in Marbleton with Walt Bousman and Director Randy Johnson absent. A review of staffing at the Marbleton Clinic shows Dr. LaSuer is now board certified in pediatrics but staffing is still short of meeting needs. The board will pursue the hiring of another physician and one or two nurse practitioners.

The board presented figures showing income and expenses for the Marbleton clinic operation covering the period from July through November. Income and expenses are generally in line with budget projections. Net operating costs for the five-month period are $205,564 higher than average costs under contract operations.

Dr. David Burnett questioned the board about revenues and uncollected account reserves, asking: "Why don't you know what you've collected? With public money, you should be able to push a button and have the right numbers."

Burnett also questioned the nature of the $19,050 costs added to his monthly contract fee of $30,000 for making the comparison, adding, "You guys have been notorious in the past for putting out bad information."

In emergency medical services business, the board heard a request to add four full-time people to the services. Wil Gay reported that there have been only six responses to a mail and advertising campaign seeking applicants. Gay advised that there are 16 people in the basic training class which just started and eight just completed the intermediate training class.

The board heard a request from Davis Partnership, hired to design the new clinics, for $40,000, which would be used to hire an engineer to prepare a detailed document covering equipment and system needs for the Pinedale Medical Clinic.

Board Member Garry Eiden objected to the added cost, stating, "That's why we hired these experts."

Board Member Mary Lynn Worl noted that she had attended a meeting with users and architects and understood the need for this very complex listing.

"The board was confused," Worl said.

Burnett advised the board that they needed to have a medical director involved in this process to avoid confusion and added costs. The board approved the funding request with Board Member Bill Barney and Worl voting aye and Eiden voting nay. The equipment consultants will be in Pinedale on Jan. 16 and 17 to begin work on that project. The architects will also be in town on Jan. 25 and 26 to finalize design details.

A discussion of the conversion of the Pinedale clinic to board operation and contract negotiations with Dr. Judy Boyle drew protests and questions from the audience. Jim Carbley and his wife, Jeannie Robinson, questioned the board about the buyout of Boyle's practice, quoting from copies of e-mails between board members and staff.

Worl reviewed the steps taken to date, advising that the board had retained an appraisal expert to do an evaluation. This evaluation was completed and reviewed but no action has been taken. Negotiations between the board and Boyle will continue. Barney noted that he has reservations and has not decided on a course of action. He feels that the Feb. 13 target date for resolution will not be met. Eiden questioned the need to purchase the practice from Boyle, noting that it has never been done before and that there is nothing of value to purchase.

Burnett commented that the board appeared to be trying to establish a monopoly in the clinic business by buying out Boyle.

Other members of the audience asked the board what it intended to do about the Sublette Center and its financial problems. Chairman Jerry Jensen advised that the board was looking into the issue and was interested in helping to resolve the problems, but had not yet determined what needed to be done.

The board then adjourned to executive session to discuss the purchase of property for the new Marbleton clinic and to discuss personnel issues. Following that session, it was announced that letters of interest would be sent to property owners requesting a six-month option to purchase. It was also announced that LaSuer had been released from his six-month probationary period.

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