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Syringa trustees learn at ed. seminars

The Syringa Hospital Board of Trustees discusses a variety of issues at its June board meeting at Soltman Center in Grangeville.

Photo by Lorie Palmer
The Syringa Hospital Board of Trustees discusses a variety of issues at its June board meeting at Soltman Center in Grangeville.

— Several Syringa Hospital trustees have spent time lately trying to perfect their volunteer craft – that of being a hospital board trustee. The trustees reported on these endeavors at the June 26 meeting.

CEO Abner King and trustees Leta Strauss, Jim May and Gunther Williams recently attended the Western Regional Trustees Symposium in Omaha, Neb., while trustees Jane Carlson, Al Bolden and Steve Didier were among those who went to a mid-year meeting in McCall.

“One thing I have had reiterated to me is the importance of broadening our conversations as a board, to have deep, rich discussions,” Strauss said.

“I don’t know how to always do this when we meet in a public session like this and what’s said may have the tendency to get blown out of proportion when it hits the public,” shrugged May. “But I guess we cannot go down to the corner and meet in private – this is what we’ve got.”

Strauss emphasized that boards must be diligent, reading and keeping up with healthcare trends and more.

King discussed changes in the way healthcare is administered, placing a quote on his PowerPoint presentation that read, “Change is difficult. Not changing is fatal.”

In other Syringa Hospital news:

•Director of clinic operations Michelle Schaeffer reported Syringa is ready to man the Elk City Clinic the first Thursday of each month with he first visit being July 12.

•Director of human resources Katy Eimers reported a provider for the VA Clinic is still being sought.

•Director of facilities Bill Spencer reported he has submitted a grant for a new ambulance (the previous newest ambulance is a 2009) as well as an additional gurney lift system.

•Foundation executive director and thrift store manager Kristi Brooks reported the foundation received a grant for up to $37,000 for colorectal screening in 2019.

The thrift store sales were up 6 percent for May with overall expenses down 15 percent and net profit up 33 percent.

•Revenue cycle director Carri Forsman reported Syringa received a certificate of appreciation from the State of Idaho Department of Health and Welfare in recognition of having “perfect birth reporting timeliness” for 2017. Tammy Lorentz in the information department is responsible for collecting and filing birth certificate information.

•CFO Betty Watson reported swingbed days for May were 60 percent above budget for the month.

Charges written off as bad debt and sent to collection were $29,817 (1.7 percent of gross charges).

Kootenia Health Management services agreement fees for May were $21,749.

•CEO Abner King reported several community engagements, meetings, seminars and phone calls, including a phone call with St. Mary’s Clearwater Valley Hospital and Clinics president Lenne Bonner on June 12 discussing the following: progress on joint C-section call coverage of both facilities; utilization of hospital services; and collaboration on visiting special services.

“Part of the discussion was that preferences of the consumer are changing,” King said. “We have to make health care easy.”

He discussed consumer loyalty and put up a figure that said the lifetime value of a heath care consumer is $1.4 million.

King introduced the taxi cab versus Uber comparison.

“If you take a taxi, you have to hail one and get it to stop, then the meter will be running while you’re at a stoplight and you just don’t know what the cost will be until you get to your destination – there’s a lot of uncertainly there,” he said, as opposed to Uber where you know your ride will arrive at a certain time and cost a specified amount.

“How much ‘taxi cab’ mentality do we have?” he asked. “There aren’t any easy answers.”

Board culture and makeup – including the age of board members and how long they serve – as well as population health definitions, better ways to attract and retain providers and the health of critical access hospitals were discussed.

Didier said the McCall meeting focused on a “culture of safety, and talked about facility walk-arounds to add fresh eyes and look for “the good, the bad, the ugly and the indifferent.”

Carlson discussed mental health and reported suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.

“There needs to be a cultural shift regarding mental health and the stigma on mental illness,” Carlson said.

Bolden added mental health issues are best dealt with when intervention happens at a very young age; thus the push for more psychiatric care throughout the state.

“Telehealth is prime for this type of care,” Didier added.


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