Always liked listening to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin singing RESPECT. Listening to her belt out the song while enjoying an ice cold glass bottle of Pepsi (made in Memphis, Mo.) was the best. What does that have to do with going to the hospital board meeting? Quite a bit, actually.

People in this area want the hospital to survive and give quality care. Make no mistake, We, the People, care about maintaining this rural access hospital. We have concerns about decision making, attitudes, how new government rules and regulations will affect all of us. Asking questions in an open public forum is basic to problem solving.

An issue that was somewhat addressed, dealt with the amount of local revenue from county taxes. The amount is slightly less than $400,000. The input from a board member inferred local tax payers have little skin the game, so to speak. That, friends, is a flawed concept. Payments from Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, self insurance, plus the fact we are a rural access hospital helps pay the bills,

Speaking of billing, numerous people have remarked they have not received statements for up to a year. Think about that for a bit. A former employee from billing tried to point out steps they had taken to increase revenue. AVEC was awarded a contract probably over a year ago to expedite billing.

Caravan Health presented an interactive webinar on collaborative care organizations, how they functions and why. The ACO is part of the Medicare Shared Savings Program designed to ensure quality care and reduce costs for Medicare. The Medicare Shared Saving ACO Program will save Medicare while returning dollars to the providers in the ACO. The basic premise is local providers will engage in care transformation and transition to value based payment system.

ACO encompasses nursing. The short story is nurses will optimize care delivery and improve patient outcomes The cost of the program is $99,000 with a financial return on this program for the hospital.

Board member, Lori Fulk began asking questions Super! The webinar was interactive so I also asked questions. Bob Neese told me that I had asked enough questions. Really! When the hospital is going to spend that kind of money, it is better to ask questions than fall over rocks in the dark. Research on the topic indicates this program, when implemented, will benefit this hospital.

Under public comment I reflected the sentiment of the community to have a public forum addressing concerns to keep this hospital viable. During the board meeting, the public is not encouraged to ask questions about the issues that are on the agenda. Don’t you, the public, find that odd? Having served on different boards over the years, it is much more Respectful to answer questions in a public setting. Information is necessary to get projects started and completed. This is where Aretha’s song comes into play.

The CEO now takes approximately 15 seconds of positive remarks about my ongoing attendance/interest in the hospital. The next five minutes were not an Aretha moment.

In the past he has thrown his dinner plate down on the table, not once but twice. During this meeting, I recall him accusing me of second guessing his decision making process. I recall he mentioned Books of the Bible; recommended a book on emotional intelligence; that I was disrespectful of the some of the board members, etc. The final comment from him was to the effect of ‘go get your own board members and then you can fire me.’

I did not take the bait. One of my favorite phrases nurses use when dealing with an emotionally charged situation like this is, “I’m glad you got that out in the open.” I pulled back from that comment, daughter Tara said , “Mom, let’s go.”

So much for a song. Guess I will go get a can of ice cold Pepsi and sing a little Aretha on the way home.

To quote my Grandmother None, “Respect is no given, it is earned.” Maybe we can all learn to sing the song RESPECT together.

Addendum: August 2019 Board Meeting

Agenda: Implement a “Code of Conduct”

Stay tuned for more.

Lee Shultz, RN, BSN