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Syringa CEO hunt continues; Kootenai affiliation in process

— New board members are in place, and Syringa Hospital’s guiding force is continuing its quest for a new CEO as well as nailing down its formal affiliation with Kootenai Health.

“The search firm Witt-Kiefer is screening candidates for the CEO job,” reported Al Bolden, board chair, of White Bird. He explained the plan is for the firm to give the board a panel of three finalists from which the board will select one.

“If the board is not satisfied with anyone on the panel, they [the firm] are to continue to provide more candidates,” Bolden said. “Of course, that will slow down the process. My hope is that we will be interviewing candidates by the end of August or the first of September.”

Chief financial officer Betty Watson has been serving as interim CEO since Joe Cladouhos retired in the spring.

“I am certain Betty is ready to surrender the second job she has so graciously undertaken.” Bolden said. “She is a treasure that everyone should appreciate.”

On the affiliation front, the formal agreement is “being passed back and forth between our legal counsel and the board members,” Bolden noted.

The review of the most recent “red lined” version, he said, will be on the meeting agenda for Tuesday, July 25. The board meets in the Soltman Center at 12:30 p.m.; the public is encouraged to attend.

“Hopefully this version will address all of the concerns members of the board have expressed regarding wording and punctuation, as well as the best use of our collective thesaurus,” said Bolden. “Once the board is satisfied with the wording, it will go to Kootenai Health for their review, and then I expect it to go to the lawyers to put the final legal lingo together and then we can execute the deal.”

The affiliation will allow Syringa to provide more extended service for its patients, offer purchasing power, help train employees in various areas offered by Kootenai, as well as offer expertise to Syringa in areas such as the ever-changing Medicare and Medicaid rules.

In other Syringa Hospital news from the June 27 board packet:

• The report from the director of clinic operations stated Merrie Fleming, speech language pathologist, had submitted notice due to family obligations. She will provide services through July.

A “persistent odor” in the VA Clinic resulted in a temporary relocation of the staff across the street to the Syringa Primary Clinic. Maintenance supervisor Bill Spencer was working to identify this problem.

• The thrift shop’s volunteers contributed 557 hours in May. Monthly sales of $10,221 were 3 percent below May of a year ago. Expenses were 16 percent higher, resulting in a net income that was down 23 percent at $4,569. A part-time cashier will be hired to cover hours not being filled by volunteers, especially on Saturdays.

• Two of Syringa’s coding specialists, Carrie Page and Briana Lueker, recently completed courses in order to attain their certified outpatient coder (COC) credentials. They both passed their certification exams and are now hold dual credentials in professional and hospital based coding. The exam took nearly six hours to complete.

• Year to date, swingbed patients were down by 22.5 percent, while deliveries were up by 30.8 percent. Surgeries were down by 13.8 percent from last year, and ultrasound exams were down by 20.5 percent. Outpatient procedures saw a 61.8 percent increase, and anesthesia minutes were up by 32 percent. Activity at both the Grangeville and Kooskia clinics was up, 11 and 9.9 percent, respectively. Hospice days were up 30.9 percent, and MRIs were also up, 24.5 percent.


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