Board calls on Hall again If anyone can steer the mental health department, she can
The Plumas County Board of Supervisors has tapped Public Health Director Mimi Hall to oversee the mental health department for three months, while an outside consultant reviews and makes recommendations for restructuring the department. Specifically, the consultant will consider whether the county would be better served with a behavioral health department, a model adopted by a majority of the state’s counties.
We can’t think of a better person to steer a department that has struggled in the past couple of years. Hall has shown an ability to manage all facets of her own department, from personnel to fiscal management to community outreach. Her skills were most recently demonstrated when she stepped in to assist Plumas District Hospital’s effort to take over the skilled nursing home. She worked behind the scenes with the hospital leadership, the nursing home’s management company and various state agencies to make the takeover a viable option. Ultimately, the hospital didn’t qualify, but it wasn’t for her lack of success in the work she did and the relationships she cultivated.
While Hall oversees mental health, she will be coordinating with the Kemper Consulting Group (if the supervisors ratified the contract during yesterday’s board meeting as expected).
The contract calls for Kemper to be paid up to $250,000 — a hefty amount — and we can’t help but wonder who negotiated the terms. A quarter of a million dollars is a lot of money to pay for advice. The situation is similar to the sheriff’s agreement to pay a consultant $229,000 to prepare a grant application for jail funding. Who negotiated that agreement? This is clearly an area where a county administrative officer could have been a valuable asset.
The supervisors have recognized that Hall is an asset to this county; maybe someday they will acknowledge that a CAO would be one as well.
Local hospitals and clinics need our support
We encourage our readers to take a look at the From Where I Stand column written by Dr. Jeff Kepple in this weeks paper. Kepple is the chief executive officer of Plumas District Hospital and he addresses the financial challenges facing the facility. Some are self-inflicted — including a flawed billing system — but others are external, such as paltry reimbursement rates that don’t cover services. He articulates well his personal and professional struggle to maintain the hospital’s viability, as he has watched similar-sized, rural institutions wave the white flag.
The county’s other two hospitals — Seneca and Eastern Plumas — may not have the same billing problems, but they do face sagging reimbursement rates from government and private entities. We can all do our part to ensure that our invaluable health care facilities continue to exist by utilizing the services offered whenever possible. And if there are reasons why we aren’t, taking the time to alert health care leaders of those reasons. It was a well-written, fact-laden letter from concerned patients that caught Dr. Kepple’s attention and prompted him to delve even deeper into some of the issues facing the hospital. His reaction is worth a read.