Deputy responds to disturbance at hospital board meeting last Wednesday night

A Big Horn County deputy sheriff responded to a 911 call from the South Big Horn County Hospital last Wednesday, Feb. 22.

Hospital board member Todd Denny made the call when a discussion between former board member Bill Burbridge and current board chairman

Jeff Grant became heated, with both parties raising their voices. Burbridge previously served on the board for 12 years.

Before reading a letter to the board, Burbridge stated that it was business, not personal. He then read the letter that he was going to submit to the newspapers as a letter to the editor. (see side bar.) When he was done, Grant responded to the items in the letter. (See side bar.) Human Resources Director, Beverly Bush, was asked by Burbridge to confirm that about one-third of the staff has been fired or resigned. Grant noted that some of these dated back to when there was an interim director prior to current CEO John Adlesich.

During Grant’s response Burbridge asked about patients that had been “fired.” When Grant indicated he didn’t know what Burbridge was talking about, Adlescich responded that patients who could afford to pay the patient portion of a bill, but haven’t, were sent a letter. The letter asked them to pay their balance or set up a reasonable payment plan. If the patient is unwilling to do so, they are terminated as a patient at the clinic. (This does not affect their ability to receive emergency care through the ER.) Grant pointed out that is was a common practice, to which Burbridge responded it is “not what we do around here” and is alienating people.

After Grant completed his comments he asked Burbridge if he had anything else to say. Burbridge responded by standing up and taking a step toward the table where the board and staff were sitting. He alleged that his daughter had observed the CEO viewing inappropriate images on his computer.

Denny interrupted and said, “Bill you need to back up.” Grant left his seat and moved toward where Burbridge was standing. He told Burbridge that he needed to back up and sit down. Burbridge responded by telling Grant to back up and let him finish what he was saying. He then put his hand near the sidearm he al ways carries.

County Commissioner Felix Carrizales, Alan Paxton and Rebecca Burbridge Dalin all moved between Burbridge and Grant. Burbridge continued with his allegations and Carrizales told Burbridge to calm down or leave the room. Burbridge said he would leave the room but would not be manhandled. Denny exited the room to call the sheriff’s office.

Grant said, “I didn’t manhandle you, but you’re not going to walk up on anybody.” Burbridge replied, “I didn’t walk to you. I walked here. I stopped. I spoke.” Grant’s reply was, “You walked right up to here and as soon as I walked up to you, you put your hand on your gun.” At this point Burbridge starting walking out of the room stating he was out. Grant said to Burbridge, “Take your gun off and we’ll deal with it personally out there.”

While waiting for the deputy to arrive the board discussed checking into policies about guns being brought into a public building. Carrizales suggested they move on and complete their meeting.

Deputy Travis Davis from the Sheriff’s office responded and took statements.

STAFF REPORTS

Risk Manager/Quality Assurance/Assistant Director of Nursing for the hospital Nina Landis reported first. She said she also works on the trauma program and helps with managing the pharmacy. Board member Margie Triplett asked her if she liked her job, if she has too many responsibilities, if she has any issues with the current administration including inappropriate behavior and several other questions.

Landis replied that she likes her job better than before, she has support when work gets heavy and that she feels comfortable with management. She just finished her Bachelor of Science in nursing and is already working toward her master ‘s.

Adlescich said that Landis is a blessing to the facility. Landis reported that the hospital staff is more at ease, they have a better team and there is some accountability. She also reported that she feels that the attitude in the nursing home for both staff and residents is better. However, interaction with the clinic staff has some tension.

Landis added that three of the traveling nurses currently at the hospital want to extend their contracts or come back.

In the CEO report Adlesich shared the patient satisfaction numbers, which are higher than they have ever been. He also highlighted the new doctor, an increase in Midway Clinic visits, the number of new patients that have been seen and that mailers are being sent out to every address and P.O. box within 30 miles of the hospital.

The hospital has received certification to go from a six- to a 10-bed hospital. Adlesich said he is working toward hiring the additional nurses before opening up the extra beds.

Another point of discussion was the recent grant the hospital received from the State Loan and Investment Board. Carrizales said that it was his first time at the SLIB meeting. He was very happy that the hospital got funded despite a staff recommendation to the SLIB not to fund. He commended the Basin Area Chamber for reaching out to the elected officials in Cheyenne and making the case for the hospital. He also praised Adlesich and Osborn for redoing the request overnight from $1 million to $500,000.

Hospital CPA Joy Osborn presented the financials. Grant pointed out that income for the hospital was at 150 percent of budget. The net income/loss was at 162 percent of budget seven months into the fiscal year.

Beverly Bush gave the Human Resources Report. Highlights included a CNA passing her nursing exam and is now being a Licensed Practical Nurse, the hospital continuing to search for additional registered nurses, the clinic’s Medical Assistants training regimen being underway and several staff members participating in Healthstream’s Online Training. Bush herself has passed her HR certification and has a Professional Human Resources designation.

Board member Sue Antley said that while some people don’t like to be moved around she discussed how the front desk receptionist Carolyn Olin was thrilled to be at the reception desk in the ER.

ADDITIONAL AUDIENCE COMMENTS

Also addressing the board from the audience was Alan Paxton, who said, “I’ve just heard rumblings in the community that concern me. This hospital has been here a long time. I’ve been here a long time. I’m ashamed to say that at one time they referred to this facility as a first aid station.” (This was after the emergency room was shut down at one point.) “That’s been rectified. We have it going in the right direction. I want it to keep going that way. I’ve been hearing some serious rumors in the community that things haven’t been going that way. I’m concerned.” After Burbidge left Paxton addressed the board again.

“There is trouble in paradise and somebody ought to pay attention,” he said. “This has gotten completely out of control. I came here to show my support. I’ve heard rumblings about Doctor Hill. I am a strong supporter of Doctor Hill. Is he perfect? No. Nobody is, but he is a very compassionate man. I hope you folks can get this straightened out because I feel things have gone in the wrong direction.” He then left to deal with flooding on his property.

When the meeting was over former hospital board member Kay Mattis asked to address the board.

“I have a vested interest in this hospital/clinic,” Mattis said. “I was on the board and we were tasked with the decision to close this hospital. That was the toughest thing we had to do. I was still on the board when we started bringing Midway Clinic back. We brought in Dr. Pull and then Dr. Hill.

“I know there are two sides to every story. I think you need to remember there are two sides to every story. We have heard from several different people. I think you have some things to work out. I would suggest some mediation. I’m reading your list of things that went on in the past. I do implore you to look at both sides and try to work it out.” Grant thanked her for her comments and said, “Don’t assume that we aren’t looking at it and we haven’t looked at it.” Board member Sue Antley added that there have been some serious things that have happened that have caused sleepless nights but that the board can’t talk about them.

OTHER BUSINESS

•A letter from Atwood Ambulance owner Clayton Draggoo was read.

•The waste treatment system options were discussed.

•The future of the hospital health care foundation was discussed.

•Board members were placed on various committees.

•The board went into an executive session.

Additional reporting by Kynli Smith