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GRANGEVILLE – “I would like to know, where are the people in our county who have COVID?” asked Grangeville resident John Gaither at the July 28 Syringa Hospital board meeting. “I read there are 24, and I’d like to know if there are any ‘hotspots’ like other areas have listed.”

Trustee Jerry Zumalt explained the state does not report on the specific residence of those who test positive.

“And only residents of this county will be included in the numbers – others could have tested positive here, but unless they live in the county, they will not be reported here,” he explained.

Chair Leta Strauss agreed.

“There is no way to know exactly where people reside,” she said.

Gaither went on to let the board know he was disappointed Syringa “would not treat my granddaughter, because she is quite heavy,” he said. He explained she was pregnant and was referred to Lewiston because of her weight.

“I feel like she birthed a child in Lewiston she should have birthed here,” he said.

CEO Abner King said the issue could not really be discussed, but that the health and safety of patients is always foremost when difficult decisions for care are made.

Gaither had additional comments regarding rumors he had heard that some hospital staff were ill due to environmental concerns.

“I take that very seriously, but I have not heard anything about that,” trustee Jim May said.

Gaither ended his public discussion by saying he appreciates the Syringa Pharmacy and feels “it’s one of the best things this hospital has ever done,” he said.

The board discussed ongoing financial issues related to COVID-19 and trying to plan for the future.

“COVID is not fading away – this is still being recognized as the first wave,” King said, adding the overall impact of the virus, along with nationwide energy problems hitting close together were crippling to certain parts of the economy.

In other news, Margretta Fortin, incoming CNO, takes the place of former CNO Alex Frei.

“I have been the clinical nurse manager here for the past two years, and am honored and excited to take this new role,” Fortin said. She has a master’s degree in nursing leadership and management.

Clinic operations manager Michelle Schaeffer reported Jenn Lesso, FNP, has agreed to stay on with Syringa as a locum three days a week until the end of the calendar year.

“This will provide dedicated coverage for the all-day walk-in clinic until Susan Smith, FNP, begins,” she said. “Kari Holman, PA, is covering the other two days per week.” Patients can walk in Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Foundation director Kristi Brooks reported June sales at the thrift store were up 8 percent from last year.

Chief financial officer Betty Watson charges written off as bad debt and sent to collections the previous month were $95,733, or 4.8 percent of gross charges.

“That seems like a larger amount than usual,” trustee Jane Carlson commented.

“That amount can really fluctuate from month to month,” Watson answered.

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