by Eric Mullens
HUERFANO COUNTY — On Tuesday, May 8 qualified voters throughout Huerfano County have the opportunity to vote for candidates for the huerfano County Hospital District Board of Directors.
There are six announced candidates; Sierra Fourwinds, Dr. David Zehring and Sandy Dolak running for the one two-year term position and Karen Wilson, Dr. Paul Coe and Bill Hix running for the two four-year positions on the board.
The election will be held between 7 am and 7 pm and the official polling places are, Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center, Hospital Conference Room, 23500 US Hwy. 160, Walsenburg; La Veta Community Center, 131 E. Ryus, La Veta and the Gardner Community Center, 28 CR 632, Gardner.
Applications for and return of mail-in ballots may be filed with Al Tucker, Designated Election Official, or Lynette Omer, Assistant Designated Election Office at 23500 US Hwy. 160, Walsenburg Monday through Friday, between 8 am and 5 pm , until the close of business on the 7th day prior to the election (May 1, 2012).
For this election, the Huerfano World Journal prepared a questionnaire asking each candidate to respond to the following five questions:
• Why are you seeking a seat on the hospital board?
• What unique qualifications/ talents/ experience/ do you have that would enhance the hospital board of directors?
• What do you feel are the priority issues facing the Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center?
(and) how do you think they should be addressed?
• What do you think are the most important health care issues in Huerfano County?
• What role do you feel the hospital board of directors should play in the Spanish Peaks regional community?
In the following profiles the answers are presented in the order they appear above.
Bill Hix of Walsenburg was educated at Central Methodist University where he received a bachelors of arts degree and the University of Missouri where he received his masters’ degree. He is a member of the United Church and Master of the Huerfano Masonic Lodge.
• During my last term there were several projects started to improve the hospital facilities. I would like to see them through to their completion. Examples of these are the remodeling of the Emergency Room and the building of the new nursing home. I would also strive to maintain the excellent ratings the Hospital and veterans home have recently received during the last year.
• I am a retired County Extension Director who served this county for over 20-years working with the people of Huerfano County. I have held leadership positions in diverse organizations such as Chairman of the Downtown Revitalization Committee, VAIL Board Chairman, Huerfano Basin Stockgrowers Secretary, Treasurer of the Spanish Peaks Regional Hospital Board, Chairman of the Trinidad Community Chorale, President of the Colorado County Agents Association, National Western Regional Director of the National 4-H Youth Agents Association and President of the Walsenburg Golf Club. These have taught me how to work with people under many different situations.
• Remodeling the Emergency Room to meet modern standards is the most immediate. Building a nursing home to complement the VA home on the Hospital campus is another top priority. Colorado citizens would have a facility which could care for them through assisted living on to hospitalization if the need arises. Care providers would be available who would be familiar with their medical histories and provide the right care immediately.
• Diabetes in Huerfano County is one of the most prevalent medical problems. We need more doctors so people do have long waiting times for appointments. People need to be made aware of the top notch facility we are fortunate to have in this community. The hospital board and administration have added ancillary services from visiting physicians to meet the needs of Huerfano County. Dr Lee, has performed many eye surgeries since he opened a practice here.
• Quite simply the role of the board is to set policy for the Hospital and the veterans home within the purview of their authority. It is up to the administration to carry out the policy. Members of the Board may act as sounding boards for the citizens of the community any may bring these concerns to the administration to act upon.
Dr. Paul H. Coe
Dr. Paul Coe of Gardner received his DVM from Ohio State University in 1973 and his MPVM from the University of California in 1991. He was in private veterinary practice in western Ohio for eight years and was on the faculty at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University for 26-years.
Past professional organization memberships include American Association of Swine Veterinarians, International Embryo Transfer Society, Ohio Veterinary Medical Association, Michigan Veterinary Medical Association, American Board of Veterinary Practitioners Board of Directors, Vice President, President, Past President. Current memberships include : American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Bovine Practitioners, Society for Theriogenology; Community: Huerfano County Farm Bureau (vice president, scholarship chair), Huerfano Basin Stockgrowers Association (board, scholarship chair), United Church of Walsenburg (trustee), and Trinidad Community Chorale.
“When I retired from Michigan State in 2008, my wife and I moved to the property we own near Gardner to build our retirement home. We enjoy the climate, the magnificent mountain views, and our involvement in church and agricultural organizations,” he said.
• The Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center (SPRHC) is a fine facility staffed with outstanding people who provide excellent medical care to the people of Huerfano County. I would like to continue serving on the board of directors to do everything I can to ensure our primary medical facility has everything required to maintain its high standard of care.
• I practiced in a private setting then taught in the veterinary college at a large university. I’ve served on committees and held office in organizations at the local, state, and national level. I understand the principles of excellent service, high quality medicine, and fiscal responsibility that constitute the formula for success in any medical practice.
• Medicine is first and foremost a service business so we need to maintain a well-trained, committed, caring staff. Second, good providers need the facilities and equipment to do their jobs. We want to develop, in a fiscally responsible manner, facilities that meet current requirements and allow for future needs. We estimate needs, develop plans, and determine costs. We also integrate the comments of stake-holders received in surveys and community forums into our deliberations.
• Compared to all counties in the U.S., Huerfano County has a higher proportion of residents over age 65. Management of age associated medical conditions and nursing home care will continue to be important. Rapidly increasing costs for medical care will be especially challenging in this economically distressed county. In the long run, regulation of health care facilities and the level of reimbursement by government may determine the type of medical care available in Huerfano County.
• We are very fortunate that the only major medical facility in Huerfano County is also an excellent place to receive care. The primary role of the board of directors is to facilitate the operations and ensure the excellence of the medical care provided at SPRHC. Board members need to stay abreast of the medical needs in our community by listening to our constituents and incorporating the needs and desires of the community into our deliberations towards making our medical facilities the best they can be.
Karen Wilson of Walsenburg is married with two children in college and owns the La Plaza Inn in Walsenburg.
She has experience in manufacturing and service industry for over thirty years and has managed large manufacturing firms with multiple locations.
She was educated at Memphis State University, Memphis, Tennessee, majoring in business administration.
She is a member of Walsenburg Downtown Revitalization Committee the Huerfano Tourism Board and is on the fact finding committee for eliminating train horns; also known as a Quite Zone.
• After being asked by the hospital board to consider being a board member, I realized that this would be a great way to give back to the community and help our largest employer and the jewel of our community move forward with continued success.
• Thirty plus years of corporate management has given me a full understanding of personnel, budgets, profits and the importance of growth in an organization.
• Top-level care while remaining profitable. Professional, yet caring staff and a working environment that attracts top level medical people to our community. Sustained growth and success leading to patients being able to be treated here rather than transferred to more qualified facilities.
These can only be achieved and maintained through a clear unified vision and mission carried out by a well-trained staff and management team.
• All health care issues are important and should be given individual attention at the highest professional level in each unique case. Lack of preventative care and affordable care are issues for everyone.
• The board helps establish vision and direction, assist in identifying concerns and needs of the community and be a visible and vocal advocate for the community and health center.
Part Two of the Hospital Board of Director candidate profiles will be in next week’s paper.