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EPHC sees immediate use of new urgent access clinic; offers second boosters to those in need

At the April 28 meeting of the Eastern Plumas Health Care (EPHC) Board of Directors, recent Plumas District Hospital (PDH) board appointee Guy McNett opened the comments after a call to order by Chairperson Gail McGrath.

McNett was invited to attend the meeting to share his appointment, see board progress at EPHC, and share some history working with EPHC in the Indian Valley area.

McNett commented on the benefits of strong collaboration between the district hospital systems and community agencies.  “If there is one thing we learned from Greenville, it was that healthcare in Plumas County had better all be pulling on the same rope or we aren’t going to make it. Thanks for being there,” McNett said to the board.

Public comment

Resident Josh Hart then spoke on behalf of Plumas Wired, commenting on the much-debated Verizon cell tower currently being constructed close to the EPHC campus.

“I’ve been emailing with Doug McCoy regarding operational concerns,” Hart said. “There are still open questions regarding how this tower will impact operations. From our perspective, everything is not fine.”

Hart stressed his and other residents continued concerns around the potential future location of a helipad or port on EPHC campus and potential future Care Flight conflicts.

“These issues could have been solved earlier in the planning process,” Hart said. He raised concern that the tower would still pose operational impact to flight altimeters. “The city has the ability to prevent that conflict now. FCC guidelines have no bearing on safety. If I was a member of staff there, I would not want to work for the hospital, I would not feel safe,” Hart said. He concluded with a renewed call for the withdrawal of the permit.

McGrath stated, “At this point we do not agree with your point of how serious the issues are. We will be watching and monitoring moving forward very, very closely.”

Gail then made a motion to approve the consent calendar, which was unanimously approved.

Infection control

Michelle Romero of Infection Control reported that IC was relatively stable at the moment. “There was an increase in influenza earlier in the month, and a slight increase in covid cases this week,” Romero said. The clinics are now also offering second boosters to anyone who needs them. We will probably start to see increase in cases locally.”

Chief nursing officer report

CNO Penny Holland reported that the nursing floor in ER was pretty stable, and that they were currently looking for a full-time night shift nurse.

Holland also noted that radiology had been maintaining stable staffing.

“In labs, we have an interim manager from Florida who will stay for six months and is making a difference,” Holland said.

Holland also reported that the department had bought a new machine for covid and flu testing, along with testing for c-diff and norovirus.

Human resources
HR Director Lori Tange reported that new unemployment claims have returned to pre-pandemic levels, hovering near their lowest level since 1960.

Tange also touched on recent meetings with department leads to go over results of an employee survey. “This is a part of the (Ignite the Patient Experience) project rollout, and we will meet with all departments to go over results in the next two to three weeks to identify opportunities for improvement and create a defined action plan, as well as ask teams for additional input,” Tange said. “Some employees feel that the information won’t be acted upon. We want to ensure every voice is heard, it’s very important.”

Chief Finance Officer report

CFO Katherine Pairish reported that EPHC had “just completed nine months of the fiscal year ending March 31, 2022 compared to this date 2021.” EPHC continues to do well despite recent increases in prices of supplies and travelers.

Total year-to-date revenues were over last year by $2,249,446, a 21 percent increase. Total operating expenses were over 2021 by $3,796,583, or 17 percent.

Pairish also reported that work on the budgets for the 2022/23 fiscal year was ongoing with plans to present them to the board for approval by July.

Director of Clinics report DOC Paul Bruning reported that March was the best revenue months in the last four years. He commented on increased visits, noting that clinics had ‘exceeded telemedicine revenue by about $1,000 last month’.

Bruning also reported that in the past week, the new urgent access clinic had opened and was seeing between 10 and 15 same-day patients a day.

“In-office dispensing of vital medicines such as antibiotics will also be starting in next couple weeks,” he said. Bruning also noted that he had met with the Portola Village Pharmacy, with the goal to make a plan to get prescriptions out to Loyalton.

“Doug McCoy and I met with Sierra County Public Health to discuss synergies, directions we could work together on, especially with the new additional space at the Loyalton clinic,” Bruning concluded. “We hope to have potential contractors and bids ready for board to review for that project to get underway.”

Chief Executive Officer report

CEO Doug McCoy opened with a statement that he had received a couple of messages from Josh Hart regarding the cell tower and thought it important to share what he had provided to the City of Portola city council at a city hall meeting held the evening prior.

“I met with the city directly to go over those concerns,” McCoy said. “Obviously, we are concerned that our campus and flight operations remain safe.”

McCoy read his statement to council aloud to the board.

“We have been taking RF readings across campus, which started in November of 2020, and we will continue to do so regularly, which will ensure levels remain below FCC levels for public safety,” McCoy added.

McCoy also noted that the newest CNA class had eight students and was reportedly “going very well.”

He also touched on his excitement with the customer service patient experience initiative. McCoy then reported that he had also had a recent Service Excellence Council meeting led by Jim Burson.

“There is a lot of really positive energy about that, and we are off and running,” he said with a smile.

McCoy noted that EPHC would be sending out their first community newsletter soon. He also touched on the topic of seismic requirements for the hospital.

At that time, the policies were approved unanimously by roll call vote.

Board member Dr. Paul Swanson emphasized the good financial situation EPHC was in, as discussed earlier.

With no public comment, McGrath said in closing that she was ‘glad to see things were improving as regards workers.’ “It’s very good to see. So many areas really will come out of covid in much worse condition than we have, we’re very grateful,” McGrath added.

At that the meeting was adjourned to move into closed session.

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