Abner King mug

Syringa's CEO Abner King.

GRANGEVILLE – With a statewide lockdown due to the coronavirus, Syringa Hospital board met via a Zoom on-line meeting for its March 24 board business.

“COVID-19 is the topic at hard and the primary focus of every hospital in the state,” CEO Abner King said in his report.

He explained some state waivers that affect Syringa during the pandemic include length of hospital stay (not currently limited to 96 hours), the ability to house patients in non-acute units if necessary and providers licensed in other states being able to provide services if needed.

King reported he is in contact with both St, Mary’s Hospital and Clinics CEO Lenne Bonner and Kootenai Health’s Jeremy Evans regarding COVID-19 preparations and collaborations for care.

King said he and Bonner also discussed, with Idaho County Commissioners, the possibility of a joint ambulance district that would serve both communities.

“They are open to the idea,” he said, but would like to wait on pending ambulance legislation at the state level.

Director of clinic operations Michelle Schaeffer reported the reception area on the medical side of the Kooskia clinic is complete.

“This enhancement has provided improved privacy for patents and safety for staff,” she said. “Additionally, the access to the therapy side of the building allows for reception to assist each other. Patients have been remarking on the professional look and improved privacy.”

She added that patients are continuing to utilize the Elk City clinic and have expressed appreciation for the service.

She also stated an NPR (National Public Radio) correspondent was at Syringa March 10 and highlighted Syringa as a rural hospital during the COVID-19 crisis. PA Nathan Winder was recorded explaining airborne and droplet infection and teaching safe handwashing techniques at Grangeville Elementary Middle School, and Dr. Told and others were interviewed.

Director of facilities Bill Spencer noted his assistant of 19 years, Dennis, will be leaving the job and moving to Wisconsin to be closed to family this month.

“He has been excellent help for me and a big asset for the organization,” Spencer said. “He will be missed.”

Chief financial officer Betty Watson reported charges written off as bad debt an sent to collections were $24,886 (1.4 percent of gross charges).

The Kootenai Health management services agreement fees were $20,070.

“We continue to experience a higher than usual delay in payment on our claim from the VA system,” Watson reported. “We are working with Representative Fulcher’s office for help in getting payment from the VA system. In the last month, we received $7,356 from Walla Walla VA, and $40,452 from Community Care.”

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