EPHC reports on tradition to new medical records system, Loyalton clinic and mammography

By Lauren Westmoreland

[email protected]

The Eastern Plumas Health Care (EPHC) Board of Directors held a regular meeting on the morning of May 25 discussing the new electronic medical record system, a new class for CNAs, and a new 3-D mammogram machine at EPHC.

The meeting started with a brief report from Director Gail McGrath on the status of the EPHC Auxiliary and Nifty Thrifty thrift store in Portola. “At the end of April the Auxiliary had $130,051 in our account and a separate fund of $8,085. Donations are coming in very well,” McGrath reported.

Chief Nursing Officer Penny Holland then reported that EPHC had celebrated Nurses’ Week through the week of May 6, and that it was well received by all. “Staffing is stable,” Holland said. Holland also reported that dietitian Jen Vimbor had been certified in diabetes prevention and hoped to soon have classes for diabetic and pre-diabetic patients.

Skilled Nursing Facilities Directors of Nursing Tamara Santella and Lorraine Noble reported next, noting that their census was steadily climbing up, and that there would be a new CNA class that would be starting on Monday, July 10. “We are still taking applications for those who may want to be a nurse’s aide,” said Noble. The SNF is still utilizing traveling nurses to some extent in the interim. “There was mandatory training on elder abuse as well,” Noble added.

Noble went on to note that the Portola ENF campus was having some challenges getting conservatorships completed with Plumas County, and that there was one resident that had been in the conservatorship process for the past two years.

Director of Clinics Tracey Studer gave updates about the ongoing meetings to get the new Loyalton EPHC clinic licensed and open. “We’re still waiting for things like exam tables to be delivered,” Studer noted. Studer reported that the telehealth portion of the clinic was delayed but should be ready soon, and that staff was still working through the implementation of the new electronic medical records (EMR) system.


Chief Financial Officer Katherine Pairish reported that her department was also working through the Cerner EMR transition, with on-site training taking place that week. “It’s going very well,” Pairish said. “That said, we do not have financials for the month of April yet and we won’t until our folks get caught up with training on Cerner.”

Pairish then noted that she had a summary of what had been presented to the finance committee that morning, briefly touching on IGTs or Intergovernmental Transfers over the last six years. “EPHC averaged $4.8 million in IGTs which is excellent and very helpful to our bottom line,” Pairish explained. “We had a nice surprise in the form of the Anthem rate range IGT in the amount of $3.4 million, an increase of $1.3 million more than we expected.” Pairish also noted that at the end of 2019 the long-term debt balance was almost $6.4 million, with the current fiscal year’s debt ending at $4.5 million. In 2021, EPHC paid off a loan from Plumas Bank in the amount of $375,000, reducing anticipated long-term debt.

The final area talked about was the budget assumptions for the upcoming fiscal year, with 5 percent increases anticipated in revenue in departments such as lab, radiology and clinics. “We’re looking to increase wages effective July 1, but we’re not sure what that will look like yet,” Pairish added. “As we begin the budget process, we will see what makes sense for us.” The budget will be presented by the July meeting.

CEO Doug McCoy reported that as had been noted earlier in the meeting, the dominant theme at EPHC over the last seven weeks had been the EMR transition. McCoy reported ongoing training issues for staff and medical providers, and that it was adding a lot of pressure to all involved. “We’re hoping that things are improving each day,” he said. “We’ve had additional training sessions going on, and physicians are reporting on improvements as well. We’re confident every week will get better.”


McCoy also spoke about the final phases of the Loyalton clinic project. “There may be opportunities for space to become available for even more services down there,” McCoy said. “Also, we’re very pleased to announce that we had a very good first EPHC Foundation meeting with good ideas for the community moving forward.”

McCoy shared that over the past three years staff turnover decreased, year over year, showing strong staff retention. He also shared the exciting news of the new 3-D mammogram machine being installed, with EPHC going through the final phases of testing and licensing so the machine can be put to good use for the community.