EPHC board welcomes new director, expresses concern over Portola event

By Lauren Westmoreland

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The Board of Directors at Eastern Plumas Health Care (EPHC) in Portola warmly welcomed incoming director Augustine Corcoran to the board during the meeting held the morning of Thursday, Feb. 25, along with routine business discussion.

The meeting opened to board comment after dealing with a few technical difficulties and multiple board members expressed concern regarding a gathering held the previous evening in Portola, at the Old Town Portola Event Center. “There were vans, a bus, and a rather large group of at least 50 people congregated without masks at this event,” one member said.

“I don’t know if we should now be planning for a wave coming to the hospital within the next 10-15 days. I’m very concerned that this even took place.” Other members agreed, noting that they had seen the gathering being set up as well.

After adopting the consent calendar, Chairwoman Gail McGrath administered the Oath of Office to Augustine Corcoran, with his term of office to end on Dec. 2, 2022. All extended their congratulations before proceeding to various reports.

At Nifty Thrifty, McGrath noted that hours are currently Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and all gave thanks to the EPHC Auxiliary for their ongoing support despite the many challenges presented due to the pandemic.

“EPHC would like to thank the Auxiliary for their generous donation to assist us in replacing our Dexa bone density scanner,” said CEO Doug McCoy. “This is a critical part of our radiology services, and we appreciate their ongoing support of our campus.”

McCoy went on to report out for Michelle Romero of Infection Control and Chief Nursing Officer Penny Holland due to the fact that both were working at the vaccine clinic that day.

Vaccine progress in Eastern Plumas

“The COVID community vaccine program continued in February with 64 residents aged 75 and up receiving both their first and second doses, and 190 residents receiving their initial dose,” McCoy reported.

“Two hundred and forty doses are expected to be given during today’s clinic, and it is anticipated that all of our residents 75 and over that have requested vaccination will be completed this week.”

McCoy noted that Plumas County Public Health has also been vaccinating teachers and childcare workers during the same time period.

Eastern Plumas Health Care District mailed letters to 5,200 community members, outlining the process for vaccine registration, vaccine information, and FAQs regarding immunization.

“We anticipate community members age 65 to 74 will begin receiving vaccinations as early as the first week of March, pending State receipt and distribution,” McCoy stated.

Human Resources Director Lori Tange reported that there was quite a bit of movement with ongoing efforts to fully staff all needed positions at EPHC and had already worked to fill several key positions such as telemedicine coordinator and an activities assistant for the Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF) in Portola and Loyalton.

“We are still recruiting staff for our physical therapy department,” Tange noted. “Currently we are looking to find a full-time staff outpatient physical therapist.”

Tange also expressed her gratitude for the ongoing hard work of Alanna Wilson in everything from working directly on outreach with new employees to creating a variety of new processes and systems that have helped streamline daily functions at the district.

Finance report

Chief Financial Officer Katherine Pairish took her turn in the monthly reports, speaking to the finances for the month of January 2021. “Total patient revenue for the month of January was under budget by $360,276,” Pairish said. “Our total operating expenses for the month of January were over budget by $23,452. Year-to-date net loss was $496,681.

“We budgeted for a net loss of $2,108,153. The PRIME IGT came back $1,262,250 greater than what was budgeted, and contractual adjustments were less than budgeted by $523,245.”

According to Pairish, both of those items had a positive impact on the bottom line for the seven months ended January 31, 2021.

CEO Report

CEO McCoy then gave his report, noting that EPHC is trending well with the operational plan for the final two quarters of the fiscal year that was initially presented on Feb. 4. “With few exceptions, all February action items are either completed or in progress and listed in the attachment for Board review,” McCoy said. “Overall skilled nursing facility (SNF) census has increased by three ADC since the beginning of the month and outpatient, ancillary, and clinic volume remains strong. We are also pending receipt of the plan proposals from Aspen Street for the ED expansion project and Loyalton clinic building relocation opportunity.”

The “Ignite the Patient Experience” training for all EPHC staff and providers which was planned for March 2 and 3 has been postponed due to ongoing COVID restrictions. The training has been rescheduled for May 18 and 19, which will coincide with the Eastern Plumas three-year leadership strategic planning event.

McCoy noted that a patient experience portal has been added to the EPHC website for customer feedback and testimonials, and all patients are highly encouraged to utilize it. “We will post at least 10 testimonial statements monthly, both online and throughout the EPHC campus,” McCoy explained.

McCoy then said that there has been a change in clinic leadership with former Clinic Director Rhonda Grandi retiring after five years of “excellent service to EPHC.”

“Rhonda has made significant operational and financial improvements to the clinics over her tenure and we appreciate her dedicated service to our organization,” McCoy said. “In the interim I will be overseeing clinic operations and working directly with Dr. Stoll and Christina Potter until a new director has been hired.”

McCoy then explained, “We are currently evaluating two new programs to add to our community offerings.

An initial presentation has been made by Psychiatric Medical Care to provide outpatient group behavioral health services in conjunction with our current behavioral health program.” The program would include both onsite and virtual group therapy sessions three times per week overseen by a psychiatrist and LCSW and will take four to five months to get underway.

The program will require a space allocation which is currently under review. EPHC is also reviewing a community health program utilizing its EMT staff to provide home based health checks/screenings on patients at high risk due to significant medical issues.

“A similar program is being utilized through Plumas District Hospital with a high level of success,” McCoy said.

Another item noted is the work towards establishing a respite care program for an estimated 7-14 day stay for elderly patients, which would give many home caregivers a much-needed rest period, while ensuring that each patient is cared for. “We really feel like there is a respite need in the area, and it is one of our March initiatives,” McCoy added.

The Board of Directors went on to discuss various policies, before closing the first agenda.

Members went on to a brief special agenda to address the annual organization of the board, with Augustine Corcoran accepting the role of Secretary, as well as filling the vacancy left by his predecessor Harvey West III on the finance committee.

Director Linda Satchwell filled the vacancy on the planning committee, and all organizational changes were approved with all in favor.

For those that would like more information about anything discussed at this meeting, for agenda materials, or other questions, contact Jessica Folchi at [email protected] or visit http://www.ephc.org/.