From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 5, Number 9 - May 26, 2005
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

RHCD sets public input meetings

by Bill Boender

The Sublette County Rural Health Care District Board met in Pinedale Monday, May 23, in a marathon session lasting almost four hours. Much of that time was spent in discussions with Dr. David Burnett and Dr. Judy Boyle regarding hiring of physicians, licensing requirements and other aspects of clinic operation.

Burnett requested clarification of arrangements for emergency staffing, noting that he and Dr. Darcy Turner had been extending their coverage well beyond the anticipated end of their contract. Burnett pointed out the need for proper licensing for laboratory operation, dispensing of schedule 2 drugs and for practicing in Wyoming, noting that operating on a good faith/ good samaritan basis can work in the short term but cannot continue without proper licensing in place.

Burnett and Boyle agreed that they would not be comfortable giving, loaning or dispensing drugs to an unlicensed clinic employee if they were not there in person.

Burnett further questioned the board regarding qualifications of potential permanent hires as well as temporary physicians and physician assistants being brought in for coverage until permanent replacements are hired. When asked if the board had received and reviewed licenses, credentials and qualifications of potential hires, RHCD Director Randy Johnson responded that they had not been received or reviewed.

Burnett stated: "My concerns are for my patients and the community and for some time I've been afraid that some things aren't being covered. I suggested earlier that you include a physician on your search committee so that these things could be addressed."

Johnson then requested permission from the board to contract with consultants who have more expertise in this area. Boyle suggested using a Laramie group that does nothing but help rural health care boards with this type of problem. Boyle advised that she and Burnett have always been available to help, but have not been asked.

Burnett added, "It's unfortunate that we sit back here knowing the problems you face, but you have not utilized this resource."

Johnson and board members Bill Barney and Mary Lynn Worl concurred, noting that discussions had centered on relations, coverage and details of operation and not on all the other aspects of importance. Board members agreed that they felt that time constraints would make it difficult to include physicians on the committee and were mostly unaware of many things that should have been considered.

Boyle also noted that she is currently advertising for a replacement for Dr. Alex Constantinides and would be happy to share results with the board if there are applicants who might better fit the Marbleton operation.

In other business, the board tabled action on five agenda items. They approved renewal of an office space lease, a contract for billing at Marbleton, a new bank account at Bank of the West, a transfer of $800,000 to the Wyostar savings account and a petty cash fund of $200 at the Marbleton clinic.

Chairman Jerry Jensen asked Johnson to advise the Sublette County Commissioners that they had reviewed the site plans for an ambulance barn and found that there is room to begin construction when they are ready.

Barney moved to formally assume full responsibility for all aspects of operating the Marbleton clinic as opposed to contracting the operation to a physician. The motion passed with Board Member Garry Eiden opposed. The board also passed a motion to hire a billing and administrative clerk at $14 per hour. Eiden was again opposed to the motion.

The decision to hire a permanent physician will be made after Johnson determines the applicants' ability to meet insurance and licensing requirements and will be done by teleconference. Eiden registered a no vote on this action also.

Public meetings to hear opinions regarding the construction of one clinic in Daniel or two clinics in Pinedale and Marbleton have been scheduled. The first will be held at the Pinedale Library Tuesday, May 31, at 7 p.m. The second will be held at the Marbleton Fire Hall on Wednesday, June 1, also at 7. The public is encouraged to attend to make their feelings known to the board so that all factors can be considered before a decision is made.

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