Hospital staff focuses on patients and employees; new retirement plan

Debra Moore
Staff Writer

Plumas District Hospital expected to serve about 400 people during its four-day low-cost health screening, which concluded Oct. 10.

Individuals were invited to the North Fork Medical Building for testing that included a comprehensive metabolic panel; thyroid screening; complete blood count; cholesterol; triglycerides; and HDL, direct LDL and ratio.

Hospital Chief Executive Officer Doug Lafferty encouraged the public to take part if possible — whichever day they were able to participate.

Lafferty discussed the health fair during the hospital board’s Oct. 3 meeting while responding to a question about whether the event was a moneymaker or money loser for the hospital.

“We’re not making money; it’s break-even,” Lafferty said. “Our goal is to provide service and catch things early.”


Doctor’s report

Dr. Erin Barnes, the hospital’s chief of staff, discussed two areas that the doctors have addressed to improve infant care.

She said that staffers became certified for neonatal resuscitation and were implementing a new screening for congenital heart disease when babies are discharged from the hospital.


New retirement plan

After 40 years, Plumas District Hospital is changing its retirement plan for its employees.

“There are 350 participants — past and present,” Lafferty said. “I take this responsibility very seriously.”

He said that ultimately it affects 1,200 to 1,500 lives, when one considers the families of the hospital employees.

Lafferty said that after much research, he recommended that the hospital end its relationship with VALIC and its individual annuity based plan, and move to a group plan with The Principal Financial Group, and Morgan Stanley as the advisor.

“This provides significant advantages to our employees,” said Dr. Mark Satterfield, who, as a member of the finance committee, had reviewed the options.

Lafferty said that The Principal Financial Group provides a proven track record, serving 19 million customers.

Director Jon Kimmel supported the move to The Principal Financial Group, but said he had a “big problem” with choosing Morgan Stanley with representatives in Reno, instead of a local option, Edward Jones, with a representative in Quincy.

Satterfield said he reconciled that recommendation by equating it with decisions he makes regarding whether patients should be admitted to Plumas District Hospital or would be better served at a larger hospital like Renown in Reno.

Lafferty said that Morgan Stanley serves other large group plans, while Edward Jones focuses on individuals.

The board voted 4 to 1 to change retirement plans and use Morgan Stanley. Bill Wickman, Kathy Price and Valerie Flanigan joined Satterfield in voting yes, while Kimmel voted no.

At the end of the meeting, Flanigan returned to the subject, expressing her regret that the business couldn’t have been kept in Quincy.

“As a local business owner, there’s times that we lose out,” she said. “I hope our vote was in the best interest of the employees.”



Billing continues to be an issue for the hospital, with Kathy Price telling the rest of the board that she received complaints recently from people who had just received bills for services that had been rendered three years ago.

The hospital has addressed billing issues by hiring two outside firms to help process the backlog.

Lafferty reported that one group had collected $134,000, while the other brought in nearly $75,000. Both groups reported that there were past-timely filings, meaning the hospital would have to write off those charges, totaling more than $600,000. The hospital had already budgeted for some of the loss.

The hospital has also made internal changes so that staff can focus on current bills.


Good news

Lafferty reported that thanks to employee efforts, the hospital’s workers’ compensation rate had been reduced, saving the hospital $32,000.

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