From the pages of
The Sublette County Journal
Volume 4, Number 37 - 5/11/00
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Lots of Talk, Little Action at Health Care Board Meeting

by Bobbi Wade

After about a half hour of tending to regular business and two hours in discussion on various topics all tied to the budget, the Sublette County Rural Health Care District Board adjourned their regular monthly meeting on Monday with few decisions made and a large pile of proposals to work on.

Doctor's Contracts and Recruiting Physicians

The Board received a letter from a woman doctor that had been in contact with Dr. Ron Glas regarding coming on as a full-time provider in the Pinedale Clinic. The doctor had decided not to come to Pinedale, citing financial concerns and instability of annual contract negotiations as part of the reason for declining to re-locate here. Another physician is considering the position at this time, though his discussions with Dr. Glas and the Board are in the very preliminary stages at this point.

The subject of recruiting physicians to Sublette County led to the Board voting to negotiate two-year contracts with all physicians in the future, beginning with the next contract period, which will be in 2001.

Dr. Glas has signed his contract for the current period. Both Dr. Tom Johnston and Dr. David Burnett have yet to sign the contracts offered them by the RHCB as of the Monday meeting.

Pinedale Clinic Addition

Architect Skip Young, who specializes in designing medical facilities and was hired by the RHCB to develop preliminary drawings and a plan for the new addition to the Pinedale Clinic, has not yet completed those plans or recommendations for the District. Board members Greg Anderson and Dave Racich met with County Commissioners Bill Cramer and Betty Fear and both indicated they were supportive of the addition to the clinic facility if it is recommended by the RHCD.

EMS Proposal to Hire Staff

The longest discussion was on the subject of the Pinedale EMS proposal to hire three full-time EMTs. These paid EMTs would be on call to fill in a large gap in coverage that has grown due to the increase in calls and the burnout of the current volunteers. For certain time periods during the 24 hours in a day, there are not volunteers on call.

Though the Board members all agreed this is a serious problem that must be addressed, none were ready to commit to a paid EMS provider system at this time.

Chairman Bob Dew raised the concern that once the District takes the step of going to a paid system, "there's no going back, and the cost will increase substantially each year." This also raises the issue of how to sustain a continuing paid system in years when revenues go down. The Board did budget considerably more dollars to the ambulance service preliminary budgets for the upcoming fiscal year so the funds will be available if a decision is made to put some type of hired EMS staff in place.

Also, the Board decided to take a look at raising the rates charged for ambulance runs, continue increasing the collection percentage on runs billed by the Pinedale service and other ways of covering the cost of a paid system.

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