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Hospital Board faces questions from staff

By CAROLYN IAMON

Lifestyle Editor

Nurse Vickie Gordon, accompanied by five other associates, came before the Memorial Hospital and Manor Authority meeting on Tuesday in the public comment session. She presented a list of questions and concerns. She said she has been a nurse for 28 years, mostly either affiliated with or attached to this hospital and has seen a general decline, both in services offered, equipment and morale, especially in the last three to five years. “We’re concerned about the condition of the hospital,” she added, and professed that her purpose was to cause further questions and looking into things that maybe have been overlooked before.

She indicated the questions and comments on the list had been added to by other staff members and employees who, when learning she was compiling it, had wanted to add their own concerns.

The questions ranged from why money was spent on remodeling the nurse stations and developing a new hospital logo when things at the hospital were so bad that you had to lay off people. How much money was spent on the logo? Why does expanding continue when equipment is in such bad shape? By way of illustration she told of a malfunctioning air/heating unit that has needed parts and repair for over a month, and how the family of one patient had to bring a fan from home to cool down their family member because the room was so hot. She then spoke of having only one rectal thermometer in her unit that has tape around the probe and how difficult it can be to get an accurate reading.

She has had to beg and borrow from another unit that has two. She questioned how the staff can continue to provide quality care for their patients with less staff and inferior equipment. She particularly spoke of cuts in the therapist department. Now there is only one.

She then addressed the problems with the billing, saying it was inefficient, that something was wrong when they have to outsource billing and it still isn’t right. She told the board she continues to hear complaints from patients about the billing, as she is sure they do also.

She then addressed the topic of the BRIDGE program the hospital participated in for a couple of years to improve how patients are treated, claiming a lot of money and valuable time was spent on teaching people “how to be nice.”

She also questioned why some employees had their insurance cancelled for non-payment when premiums had been deducted from their pay.

She asked, “We have a lot of chiefs in this hospital. What do they do?”

She concluded her questions and comments asking that the board consider her questions. “Walk around and talk to people to see what we are all doing. What are we offering?”

Gordon was thanked by Authority President, Glennie Bench, for presenting her concerns and assured her that she will receive written answers to her questions, adding, “There are some very simple answers to a lot of these; but some of them are a lot more complicated, but are things that have been on the Board’s radar for a long time.”

The board then moved on to a review of the Key financial indicators for the month of October, which reflect a net income of $104,168 for the month. That figure includes a receipt of $45,000 from property taxes. Accounts payable continue to be “unacceptably high” in the words of treasurer, Charles Tyson.

Citing that this is the second month of a positive net income, he felt they are beginning to see some improvement, due in part to some of the things they have done that have been painful but are beginning to take effect. Bench added that Interim CFO Gregg Majers has developed a cash flow projection for next year that will begin to address the Accounts Payable.

CEO Billy Walker updated the board that the Health Fairs have been completed, with 725 people being served.

He announced there will be a joint meeting of hospital personnel with the City and County on December 6.

Bench announced that it has been decided that board members will not be paid to attend the GHA Trustees Retreat this year in light of the financial situation, but that information will be distributed to any who wish to attend and pay their own expenses.