During the Cedar County Memorial Board of Trustee meeting on Monday, Aug. 21, the board decided to proceed with a written policy that would create sign-on bonuses for  RNs and LPNs.

Chief Nursing Officer Drew Alexander said the hospital is currently using four agency nurses. He said he had been looking at ways to address the problem and suggested implementing sign-on bonuses. He said there would be stipulation and guidelines regarding when the bonuses would be paid out, length of employment and re-employment. Alexander said the shortage of nurses is a nationwide problem that is not going away any time soon. Many RNs are turning to agency employment due to the higher salaries. Enrollment in nursing school is down and the price for a nursing education in going up. Hospital CEO Jana Witt said the policy procedure for sign-on bonuses needs to be in place before bonuses are offered. 

All board members were present: Carla Griffin, Johnny Walker, Jan Neale and Julia Philips with Judy Renn presiding. Also present were Witt, Alexander, Board Secretary Terri Heitz, and Chief Financial Officer Carla Gilbert. Board Attorney Bryan Breckenridge was absent.

Witt said that the hospital had submitted a formal proposal to the Cedar County Ambulance District. She said she had sent it to all of the ambulance board members and had offered to meet individually with each CCAD Board Member along with Alexander, to discuss any questions they have regarding the proposal. At the 7-31-17 ambulance meeting the board stated they needed more tiime to review the hospital’s proposal and would submit questions to CCMH in writing. Witt said the only correspondence she received since the 7-31-17 meeting was a letter from Mr. Wilson on Aug. 18, 2017, stating that since the board decided at the July meeting to continue the current contract with CMH or another year, it was not timely to review the CCMH proposal. The letter declined the hospital’s offer to meet individually with CCAD Board Members to answer their questions about the proposal.

The hospital board proceeded to discuss the CCAD’s offer to sell the ambulance CCAD declared as surplus to the hospital.

Witt said that typically when an item is declared surplus, it is due to that item being at nor near the end of its usable life, being irreparable, containing outdated technology, etc. She said that if the CCAD feels the ambulance is no longer in adequate condition for use by the CCAD, the hospital could not in good conscience use it to transfer patients. If the ambulance is in good working condition and no mechanical issues as stated by Mr. Wilson at the 7-31-17 meeting, why did CCAD declare it as surplus. Why couldn’t the CCAD continue to use it saving thousands of dollars on the replacement.

Witt said it was the hospital’s understanding that all the equipment had been removed, so the hospital would face the enormous cost of replacing equipment. In addition the hospital would be faced with staffing the ambulance which would only be used for transfers. Witt also said that the existing agreement between the CCAD and Citizen’s Memorial Hospital doesn’t allow anyone other than CMH to bill for ambulance services during the term of the agreement. She said an ambulance district is a political subdivision and has sovereign control of the ambulance service in its border. She said she was uncertain how the hospital could legally operate an ambulance transfer service since the CCAD holds the country ambulance service including transfers. Neale said, “The ambulance district is not accountable to anyone.”

Witt said that she and several members of the board planned to attend the ambulance board meeting in Stockton Monday night.

Ambulance Board Member Rusty Norval told the Sun on Tuesday that the district would like to keep the vehicle in the county.

Witt reported that Hollee Cross was the new program director for the Senior Life Solutions.

The board approved bids from Cash’s Quality Electric  and Diggins Construction for the radiology re-model.

Witt mentioned that the tax hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Friday, Aug 25, in the hospital class room.

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