Syringa moves ahead with hospital collaboration effort

GRANGEVILLE – Collaboration between St. Mary’s Hospital and Clinics and Syringa Hospital and Clinics may be in the works, albeit tentatively.

At the Aug. 25 regular monthly Syringa trustee meeting, board chairman Dave Green of Grangeville said he has been in contact with the St. Mary’s Cottonwood and Clearwater Valley hospital and clinics board chair.

“They seemed pleased to start this discussion with us,” Green said. “I would like us to come up with a list of the top 10 or so items we might have ideas to collaborate on, have those ready by our next meeting, then share those with their board in November. Are there any objections to that?

“Mmm hmmm,” nodded trustee Twila Hornbeck of Grangeville.

“I say we continue until there is a reason not to,” said board member Al Bolden of White Bird.

Green said the current St. Mary’s board understands the hesitation and the past.

“They are still getting over the Casey Meza era,” he said. Meza was the CEO of St. Mary’s for more than a decade and had a complicated relationship with Syringa during her tenure; starting a St. Mary’s Clinic in Grangeville was one of the more litigious decisions she and the board made in 2010. Pat Branco is the new St. Mary’s/CV CEO who came on board last year.

“I was told St. Mary’s has no intention of taking over Syringa Hospital,” Green half-joked.

Several on the Syringa board still remember when doctors Jim and Michelle Gardner left Syringa in 2006 and gave St. Mary’s 3,200 patient records.

“They felt a need to keep those patients, that’s what I remember,” stated Hornbeck.

“That’s old news, but since we’re discussing it, why didn’t Syringa aggressively go after those patients and let them know they had a choice of providers?” Green asked. “It is absolutely our fault for not doing that.”

“What could we have done?” Hornbeck asked.

Syringa Clinic manager Michelle Schaeffer broke in to state the Gardners had written a letter to their patients advising them they had a choice of where to go for care.

“St. Mary’s did not purchase the records, they housed them,” she said. “However, the Gardner’s letter did make an underlying recommendation for care.”

Green asked if Syringa would have done any different had 3,200 patients been dropped in its lap.

“I would hope we would have the integrity to do it differently,” Bolden said.

Green said he understands there are still hard feelings from the past.

“But I think if we can’t move forward we would really miss out on something we might be able to work on together,” he emphasized.

“I don’t think we’re missing out on anything,” said Hornbeck adamantly.

The board voted to go ahead with collaboration efforts with only Hornbeck voting no.

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