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EPHC moves into new fiscal year and looks to the future

By Lauren Westmoreland

During the Eastern Plumas Health Care (EPHC) Board of Directors most recent meeting, Chairperson Gail McGrath noted that there were written public comments that would be read aloud during the second public comment.

McGrath added that donations have been steady at the Nifty Thrifty thrift store in Portola and moved into staff reports.

Staff reports

Michelle Romero of Infection Control reported that they were still testing staff and residents for Covid, but there were less cases overall. “We are anticipating a new Covid vaccine that will give protection from the Omicron variant,” Romero said. EPHC has received their first shipment of the flu vaccine as well as they are gearing up for flu season and will be offering those at clinics in the near future.

Chief Nursing Officer Penny Holland reported that she was “excited that EPHC will be able to offer mammograms again starting Monday.” Currently, there are about 200 patients waiting for that service.

Skilled Nursing Facility Director of Nursing Lorraine Noble reported with positive news, saying, “The biggest thing is that we have a new class for nursing assistants, and they should be ready to get on the floor in three weeks to start orienting.”

Chief Financial Officer Katherine Pairish reported on financials for the first month of the fiscal year, July 2022. There was a net loss of $1,077,091 posted, due partly to the fact that there were three payrolls posted that month. “We also didn’t receive any IGT (inter governmental transfer) funds in July which contributed to the loss,” Pairish explained. “The auditor, Jerrell Tucker, will be here in the second week in September for annual audit.”

Director of Clinics Paul Bruning reported, “We started the extended hours in urgent access, with more patients that I would have projected for the first couple of weeks.”

Bruning also noted that the new clinic remodel in Loyalton is underway, with most of the demo having been completed. “We’re looking at mid to late fiscal year opening for the Loyalton clinic, and we are currently to looking to obtain RHC (Rural Health Clinic) status in Graeagle and Portola,” Bruning added.  “That allows us to do loan and scholarship forgiveness for employee recruitment,” Bruning explained to Director Linda Satchwell after she inquired after the topic.

Chief Executive Officer Doug McCoy then went on to give his report.

“Everything is moving forward as planned,” McCoy said. McCoy went on to note that there were minimum wage statewide proposals coming which would bringing up the starting wage for hospitals. “It’s a bit of a concern- obviously a significant shift in certain markets,” McCoy said. “Because of the investments we have made in our wage scales, the impacts should be minimal for us, but this will be an issue for other places.”

McCoy also noted that two new providers have been added to EPHC clinics and that EPHC was planning on extending the urgent access days of operation, as well as having another Emergency Department physician joining them that month.  A summer (Certified Nursing Assistant) CNA class in Loyalton also started, with six new students enrolled. Finally, McCoy noted that the current mammogram unit was receiving a final inspection as of the date of the meeting, and that it should be up and running by August 22. “Our 3D replacement system is being built by the vendor and we expect delivery in November due to the national microchip shortage,” he added.

Public comment

Multiple letters were noted to have been received on the topic of the dismissal of Nurse Practitioner Leora Sapir. Several of the letters from community members raised concern and dismay over the dismissal.

Sapir attended the public comment and alleged that her termination was wrongful, and “fraught with bias.” After some further commentary, the hospital board stated that the public comments had “been heard,” and that there will be discussions in the future. “We will see what comes,” McGrath said.

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