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   These are the stories we are working on for this week's newspaper:
  • Deputy shooting fallout: The children of a Portola man who was shot and killed at Eastern Plumas Health Care last year are seeking millions of dollars in damages.
  • The trout must go: The state is planning to pull all of the brook trout out of a Plumas County lake in order to protect the yellow-legged frog.
  • Inspections delayed: Cal Fire was scheduled to begin property inspections this week, but decided to wait until the public could better understand what the inspectors are doing.

Hospital polls its employees; Frozen wages since 2009 lead to low morale

  The employees have spoken and Plumas District Hospital administrators plan to do something about it.

  Chief Executive Officer Doug Lafferty laid out an action plan during the hospital’s board of directors meeting Sept. 5.

  The hospital conducted an employee survey in June and received an 81 percent response rate, up sharply from last year’s 49 percent, and the 20 percent the hospital received in 2007 and 2008.

  Lafferty attributed the dramatic increase to the new format — employees took the poll on the Internet site SurveyMonkey.

  Lafferty presented the overall results, as well as a breakdown by department.

  The hospital received high marks in some areas, such as quality of work and having a defined mission, but low marks for morale, wages and electronic medical records training.

  In past years the hospital has held “townhall meetings” and invited all employees to share their thoughts and concerns in one venue. Since those “townhalls” also ranked low in the employee survey, Lafferty said the hospital would take a different approach and meet with each department individually to address the survey results.

  And while each department identified some unique areas to discuss, Lafferty is already taking steps to address the global concerns of morale, wages and training.

  “I have to come up with an idea,” Lafferty told the board about the need to improve wages.

  Though this idea is just in the formulation stage, Lafferty wants to develop a plan that gives the employees “some skin in the game.”

  If the hospital can reach a revenue goal for six months consistently, then the pay increase could be granted.

  As an example, he said it would encourage employees to properly bill for all services rendered.

  As for the issues surrounding electronic medical records, Lafferty is looking for off-site training opportunities and offering employees the opportunity to do a day’s rotation at another hospital, such as Renown in Reno.

Affordable Care Act

  Lafferty told the directors that the he and his administrators are paying close attention to the newest developments in the Affordable Care Act, but “changes are frequent as the plan evolves.”

  “We must be flexible and in rapid response mode,” Lafferty told the board.

  Though much of the act is behind schedule, and many organizations have been granted exemptions, Lafferty said the hospital is preparing for implementation.

  “We are evaluating, monitoring and waiting,” Lafferty told the board.

New doctors

  The hospital hopes to add three full-time family practice physicians to its roster as well as one full-time general surgeon. But even with the help of 10 recruiting firms, the search has proven difficult.


  Chief Financial Officer Cindy Crosslin reported that the outside auditors had already completed the audit for fiscal year 2013. Because Crosslin and her staff had all of the information ready, the auditors also had time to look at processes.

  “Last year they were waiting for information,” Crosslin said, and described this year as “very successful.”

  Crosslin also reported that accounts receivable days had decreased from 167 to 161, but was optimistic that she would have even better news to report in October.

Other news

  Lafferty reported that the new fiber-optic capability provided by Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications was scheduled to go live Sept. 6, and that the hospital’s new maintenance shop would be completed on that day as well.

  Starry Mountain Nights, the hospital foundation’s annual fundraiser, netted $9,400 after expenses.


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