[Editor's Note: This is the first of likely at least two articles on the GRMC Board of Trustees meeting on Jan. 24, 2024.]
Photo and article by Mary Alice Murphy
Two Gila Regional Medical Center Board of Trustees members attended the Jan. 4, 2024 meeting virtually on a large screen in the board room—Pat McIntire and Will Hawkins.
Hawkins and GRMC Chief Executive Officer Robert Whitaker, who also attended online, were in Santa Fe that day for the Grant County Day events led by the Grant County Prospectors.
Board Chair Dr. Fred Fox noted that Hawkins and Whitaker were advocating for the hospital at the 2024 Legislative Session.
Fox also welcomed the new permanent Chief Financial Officer William Ermann. Fox also thanked the outgoing interim CFO Leonard Binkley for his service at Gila Regional. Binkley was helping with the transition for Ermann.
He then recognized several hospital staff for their years of employment at the facility. Analissa Quinteros received recognition for her five years of service in Med Surg; Alyssa Bell was recognized for five years of service in EMS; and Leslie Johnson for 10 years of service in Laboratory.
The Consent Agenda for approval had two items that Fox requested be tabled until after the executive session. Item B addressed the master services agreement for professional and administrative services CMO (Chief Medical Officer) for Dr. Ronald P. Dalton. Item E considered the professional services agreement for Medical Director for Infection Prevention for Dr. Tsering Sherpa.
Vice Chair Betty Vega asked that Item G also be tabled until after the executive session. It addressed the professional services agreement for the Community Health and Needs Assessment for Health Tech.
Fox commented on the community health and needs assessment. Because the hospital has gained 501c(3) status approximately two years ago, the IRS requires the hospital to do the assessment within two years of receiving the non-profit status.
"I think this is a great opportunity for the board to become involved in this assessment," he said. He read the requirements, which include all ages of people in the community, the insured, the underinsured, all levels of income, including low-income and minority groups, as well as businesses and agencies. "It should include everyone in the community. Health care is changing and we have to adjust to meet the needs of the community." He said the survey will give everyone an opportunity to assess the needs. He noted if it's broad-based, it can do done with other organizations, emboldening tother agencies to also look at the health care needs of the community.
McIntire said as she was researching Whitaker, she looked at the assessment in Gallup. "I think we have people here who have done several assessments."
Board Member Javier "Harvey" Salas agreed with making it in depth for all sectors. "I think it is an opportunity to make this a great hospital."
Vega said she believes that methodology is really important. "We have to be careful to include all community members to give us input. I would like a future discussion on the methodology."
Fox noted it needed to be completed by the end of the fiscal year "so we're in a time crunch. It's also a requirement to provide a report and action plan. I'm hoping the press will have it out there that we will be seeking the public's input."
Members agreed to table the three items on the consent agenda.
Those that the Board approved included:.
Governing Board meeting minutes for Dec. 20, 2023;
Consideration for on-call agreement supplemental to practitioner employment agreement for pediatrics with Dr. Thomas J. Herr;
Consideration for the practitioner employment agreement for family practice with Dr. Donald Stephens;
Consideration for the consolidated services agreement with Telemetry System/Monitors with Drager, Inc.;
Consideration for the software license renewal for Office 365, active directory with PC Connection;
Consideration for the resolution 2024-01 for the Open Meetings Act;
Consideration for the resolution 2024-02 for signatory authorization for banking to put Ermann on and take Binkley off;
Resolution 2024-03 ignatory authorization for contracts to put Ermann on and take Binkley off; and
Resolution 2024-04 for agreement for core measures data abstraction.
With no old business or new business, the members heard reports and updates.
Chief Nursing Officer Ron Green said he continues to work on the three Rs - recruitment, reduction and retention. "In January, we hired two new RNs (registered nurses), one for the Maternal Child Department and one for the Emergency Department. Our six nursing residents are doing well. Two have already passed the boards and officially become RNs."
He said part of the Gila Regional program to hire RNs is to offer them a $10,000 bonus and a $5,000 relocation package, which covers moving expenses and some funding for housing costs to facilitate the transition.
Green said the reduction of contract traveler nurses has continued. "We've decreased the numbers by 30 percent in the past three months."
He said for retention, "our current nurse-patient ratio continues to be low, which allows the nurses to provide quality and exceptional patient care. At least 50 percent of our nurses are also cross-trained in at least one other department."
"Education is a priority here," Green continued. "In our emergency nursing and our pediatric program, we will be offering emergency pediatric training to enhance their skills. There are two training,s one in February and one in March. They will get CEUs (continuing education units) and a certificate for each one."
He noted that 100 percent of the RNs in the maternal and child department had completed an extensive training for "our baby-friendly designation. This designation provides a high quality of care for infant feeding and mother-baby bonding."
"I just want to note that our pediatrician Dr. Herr will start Feb. 5," Green said. "His schedule has started to fill up already."
Inpatient services, he said the renovation of the maternal child area has started. It is in the former Pod 1, with a completion date of the end of May 2024. "It will provide one location for labor and delivery, nurses and women's health."
In closing he gave kudos to some of the nursing departments. "In our last quarter Press-Ganey survey, we achieved 92 percent in our inpatient services for likelihood of returning for care. That means only 8 percent of hospitals nationwide had a higher score. So, I wanted to thank our nurses for their exceptional job."
Fox noted that in a recent article, it states that the recruitment bonus was a successful tactic to recruit and retain nurses. "The California hospital found it successful, as well as cost effective."
The next article will address the report from the chief financial officer.