Discussion to honor Stover stalled
At a recent meeting of the Block Island Health Services Board, President Bob Fallon clarified an apparent misunderstanding of the board’s position on a proposed fundraiser intended to honor former director Monty Stover. The topic was first broached when the board met on Aug. 26.
At the Sept. 23 meeting, audience member Richard Weisbroat asked about the proposal to honor Stover. “At the last board meeting,” he said, “the president [Fallon] dropped the idea of having a fundraiser — something to do with Monty. I thought it a useful proposal. The paper [The Block Island Times] reported on it. I’d like to know what its current status is.”
Fallon responded, “The newspaper misquoted what I had said and later retracted it. Peter Saxon (Stover’s attorney) had called me about it, and I said I’d have to bring it up with the board, asking if anyone wanted to participate. At this point of time, we have not had any kind of contact [from Saxon or others] to set it in motion.”
Fallon added, “The concept [to honor Stover] was not our concept.”
Weisbroat asked, “So you didn’t suggest that on your own?”
“No, I didn’t,” replied Fallon.
Reached following the meeting, Saxon acknowledged contacting Fallon about the proposal to honor Stover. Saxon said Fallon assured him “this matter would be brought to the board to determine possible member interest in a fundraiser to benefit Block Island Health Services (BIHS) and to honor Monty for his 16 years of service.” He added, “I thought I’d hear something at the [Sept. 23] meeting.”
Clearly surprised that the proposal had not found its way to the agenda of that meeting, Saxon explained, “It was my hope that the issue would be considered at this [Sept. 23] meeting to determine the willingness of board members to participate in such an event. This is suggested to heal old wounds, not open them.” Saxon later told The Block Island Times that as far as he knew there were no other discussions planned about the matter.
Also contacted after the meeting, Fallon suggested that his exchange with Saxon had been misinterpreted.
“There had been no clearly stated proposal,” Fallon said. “If they [Saxon and others] wished to have an event raising funds for BIHS and honoring Monty, then they needed to say that: ‘We are planning an event on a [particular] date at [some location] for that purpose. Will you [Fallon] see if board members would be interested in attending?’”
In a phone conversation after the meeting, when asked if there were any difficulty associated with the fundraising proposal, board member Kay Lewis said, “There is no difficulty.” However, she preferred not to elaborate and deferred her own response to Fallon because he had spoken directly with Saxon.
After the meeting, Weisbroat expressed disappointment that the proposal had not gone further and that the parties may have missed an opportunity.
Follow up on deer issue
Fallon reminded the board that at the last meeting, members agreed to write to Dr. Michael Fine, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health, regarding the deer situation on island. Secretary Sue Hagedorn drafted a letter, consulting with members of the Deer Task Force (DTF), who suggested the letter come from the Town Council, Fallon said.
After discussing the matter with BIHS Executive Director Barbara Baldwin, with Ruth Perfido and Becky Ballard, President and Vice-President of the DTF respectively and with Town Manager Nancy Dodge and First Warden Kim Gaffett, Fallon said the medical center board was “ready to send the letter to Dr. Fine.” It was to be signed by Fallon, Hagedorn and Baldwin, with copies sent to Rhode Island’s congressional delegation.
Fallon reiterated that concerns about reducing the deer herd were “a public health issue, not a medical one.” Hagedorn endorsed that view, noting, “The whole issue of deer is not only our issue, not only Dr. Fine’s; we need to make it the town’s.”
Baldwin reported that she and a small group had examined personnel policies. In the process, they attempted to clarify whether an employee’s work week was based on a salary or hourly wages. As Pam Hinthorn pointed out, the center’s employees “were working a 35-hour week,” while the payroll company was computing salary based on hourly rates.
Fallon suggested scheduling a meeting of the Personnel Committee, members of which were Barbara Baldwin, Cindy Baute, Bob Fallon, Bill McCombe and Patty Murphy (BIHS administrative assistant). The policy to be developed would “apply to all employees of the center,” Fallon said.
Executive Director’s Report
Baldwin announced that the Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system was “going live this Friday [Sept. 27]; we have 90 days to see 30 percent of our Medicare patients.” Baldwin explained she had already filled out an application for a grant offered by Washington Trust to support the center’s EMR system.
In reviewing other projects, Baldwin said in continuing to look for funding, she had submitted a status report to the Champlin Foundation, had provided staff support in going over the bylaws and helped coordinate the next meeting of the Physicians Advisory Committee.
She added that she, Baute and Hagedorn met with the Rhode Island Foundation to explore potential resources. Baldwin also coordinated the recent visit of Sen. Jack Reed. She said, “The visit was very positive. Reed said he’d get people at the University of Rhode Island involved in research of Lyme Disease to keep in touch with the medical center.” Baldwin added that Reed met with staff members and spoke with medical residents. She was hopeful that there would be a follow-up with Reed’s office.
Prevention Task Force (PTF) and medical board member Shannon Morgan explained that the PTF was in the process of doing a needs assessment on substance abuse within the island community.
A chart of patient visits showed 310 for May, 485 in June, 880 for July and 735 in August of 2013. These totals were compared with figures for 2012: 488 for June, 795 in July and 854 in August.
The chart also indicated this year there was one transport by Life Star in June, three in July and four in August. There were also three transports via New England Airlines in each of May, June, and July and eight in August. There was only one transport by ferry this summer; that was in August.
In a breakdown of visits, there were two, four and 14 bicycle accidents in June, July and August respectively. The number of moped injuries charted for June, July and August were four, eight and 17 respectively.
Dr. Al Casazza asked if there were figures available from April and May 2012 and suggested these would be good to have to allow comparisons with those months last year. He stressed the importance of knowing “whether patient visits are increasing.”
Hagedorn explained that some of the patient visits were for blood draws and flu shots, which are often separated out of the count. Casazza said, “There seems to be confusion about whether or not to record flu shots and blood draws with patient visits.”
He asked, “Doesn’t the billing service tell you how many visits you’ve had? They should break it down to [record] whatever level visits there were.” He felt it important that all levels of visits should be documented in order to provide an accurate record of patient use of the medical center.
Finance Committee chair Pete Tweedy reflected his frustration in the face of delays of the audit “which should have been done in July.” Noting Bruce Eagleson, BIHS accountant, had assured him that “everything’s been submitted,” Tweedy said, “I expected them to make accommodations. I am dismayed.”
In presenting a profit and loss sheet for January through Aug. 13 of this year, Tweedy noted ordinary income from patient fees for medical services totaled $255.907, facility fees came in at $11,115, donations were $71,000 and fundraising brought in $35, 431. With the town’s allocation of $105,300 and other incomes coming from the school dental program, grants, incentives and investment income, total income for the period came to $504, 262.
In viewing expenses, among the large ticket items were bad debt at $26,666; employee benefits at $44,280; depreciation expenses at $34,035 and payroll at $217,995. In the end, after totaling other expenditures and adding in miscellaneous income and investment gains, Tweedy said the budget closed with a “net income of nearly $58,000.”
Allocations, membership and bylaws
Tweedy explained that the town’s allocation was paid to the medical center quarterly. McCombe asked, “Would it be helpful to have it all at once?” Though Tweedy thought not, McCombe suggested it might help to keep the budget “out of the red.”
Hagedorn asked how much of the island population might be eligible for Medicaid, and with many in the group unsure, she wondered “what the health center would do” for a population that may be uninsured.” She added, “I’d like to see us have a plan …There must be many workers who do not have insurance.”
Chair of the Membership Committee Kay Lewis reported that to date there were 439 members, which was considerably ahead of the previous year’s drive which brought in $28,000. She pointed out that membership dues had brought in more than $65,000 last year, with “a flurry of donations in December.”
Reviewing the bylaws, a preliminary subcommittee comprised of Baldwin, Fallon, Hinthorn and McCombe identified areas that might require changes: among these were the size of the board, term length, categories of membership, quorum, language and voting requirements. Fallon said the board should continue work on bylaws and suggested setting up a more permanent subcommittee of five members, including a person from the community.
The next meeting is set for Oct. 28.