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County hospital district sets May 8 election; three director’s seats open

by Eric Mullens
HUERFANO —  With one board member term-limited and two other positions open, the Huerfano County Hospital District has set May 8, 2018 for their Board of Director’s election.
The seats held by directors Ron Nielsen and Dr. Paul Coe are open, as is the seat held by director Al Tucker, who is term-limited this year.  Coe and Nielsen could self nominate if they choose to seek reelection.  Self nomination and acceptance forms are available at the administration office of Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center, 23500 US Hwy. 160, west of Walsenburg.  Tucker will serve as the designated election official (DEO) for the district election this spring.  Self nomination and acceptance forms must be filled out and returned to the designated election official no later than Friday, March 2, 2018.
Applications for absentee ballots may be filed with the DEO of the district (at SPRHC administration office) until the close of business on the Tuesday immediately preceeding the election, which is Tuesday, May 1, 2018.
During the regular Jan. 25 meeting:
The board of directors met in an executive session and when back in regular session, voted to adopt the election resolutions for the three open director’s position and a TABOR ballot question.
President and CEO (SPRHC/ SPVCLC) Kay Whitley said the executive session was called to discuss TABOR (Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights) issues with the board’s attorney.  Whitley told the World Journal the board has not made a decision on whether or not they might have a mill levy or de-Bruce issue before voters in May.  “We have a lot more discussion to go on this,” Whitley said Monday.
The board heard an overview 2017 report and a 2018 goals briefing from BridgeCare Executive Director Pam Burnelis.  BridgeCare is a network of southern, south central and southeast Colorado hospitals who joined together to maximize group purchasing potential, share information and use the increased influence of membership to reduce costs for medical services and programs offered through out of network providers.  There are six member healthcare providers in the network and programs that have been used include training, integrated services contracts and telehealth programs.  A new network telehealth services committee is chaired by SPRHC physician Dr. Mike Moll.
Whitley gave a PowerPoint presentation on quality measures implemented for both the local hospital and the state veterans nursing home and noted there are eight patients in the newly opened extended care unit.  Whitley also briefed the board of directors on pending Colorado legislation concerning health care.
Financial information:
Chief Financial Officer Lionel Montoya presented the financial reports for November and December 2017. He noted in the November report that activity was lower than budget and lower than the same time period in 2016; with revenues lower than expenses by $198,219, lower than budget by $201,735, and lower than 2016 by $323,586.
For December 2017, Montoya reported higher financial activity than was budgeted for, and higher than December 2016.  Net revenues for the final month of 2017 were higher than expenses by $53,040 and higher than budget by $49,407.
Spanish Peaks Veterans Community Living Center Director April Secor reported average daily census at the nursing home is 93, a decline in numbers, due in part to seven resident deaths in January. “December closed out a little higher with an average daily census of 96, one below budgeted census,” Secor said in her written report.
Secor reported the Quality Assurance Performance Improvement plan is being looked at with department managers, who have been encouraged to self-identify issues they may encounter within specific departments.  “If we find the current action plan is not effective, it is expected the staff revisit and revise the plan until we are at 100% compliance,” she said.  She reported the nursing home continues to hold a Five Star rating.  She said current plans continue to address the “veterans age gap” (aging veteran population) and the needs necessary to address the issue.  She also reported psychiatric services, via Telehealth delivery, remain under discussion as an option for the nursing home.
Eight members of the CNA class #1 are currently working as nursing assistants while they await taking the final certification test.  “All are doing well, feel supported, and look forward to getting their certifications,” Secor said.  She reported CNA class #2 has also graduated.  She said the focus to ‘grow our own’ training continues in hopes CNAs will continue their education to become nurses.