Name of Observer: Judy Hucka
Observed Meeting: WbidbeyHealth Board of Commissioners
Date of Meeting: 01/19/2023
Members present: All five board members appeared to be present: President Ron Wallin, Gregory Richardson, James Golder, Grethe Cammermeyer, Eric Anderson. They were not introduced and did not appear to have nameplates, so I could not easily identify them or tell who was speaking.
Members absent: 0
Others present (staff, media, public): Multiple staff members present: Dr. David Lemme, Neil Todhunter, Shanna Harney-Bates, Dr. Miller, Paul Rogers, Tim Waldner, Curtis Shumate, LaJolla Peters, Mike Layfield.
Summarize the main issues discussed at the meeting:
--Unmet demand for healthcare services. This was a recurring topic during the meeting–large demand for medical care on Whidbey Island, but challenges to recruit and hire enough care providers of all kinds – doctors, nurses, etc. Freeland primary care clinic reopened on Dec. 1, 2022, and there is a waiting list of 700 people wanting to see a doctor.
In last 1 ½ years, WH has had a net gain of 12 providers, which Dr. Miller said speaks to the positive cultural change that has been happening at WH. Currently 8-10 open positions for providers; hardest to fill are positions for provider care providers.
--Expansion of telehealth/virtual care. WH is actively discussing telehealth services with four companies, as a way to meet customer demand for healthcare and also to increase business. Telehealth would be offered 24/7 and would help reduce wait times at clinics. Particular interest in using it for behavioral health services. It was noted that telehealth is where healthcare is going and that WH is well behind in providing it. If it isn’t offered, WH will lose patients off island and other healthcare organizations that offer telehealth.
--Financial status. Some improvements in financial status. Net loss for November was $106,000 and 2022 year to date was $1,069,432. These numbers are seen as good news because the level of losses is declining. Financial Strength Index is 0.81 (poor), but much improved from recent number of negative 3.1. WH has been making progress on CMS settlement payments, which within the next 30-60 days will improve the cash flow situation.
--Nursing staffing. WH is making some progress in recruiting nursing staff, though it is still needing to use expensive traveling nurses to maintain adequate staffing. Currently they have 138 RNs and 7 LPNs. Last year had a net loss of 14 RNs. Seeing turnaround in nursing staff morale.
--Staffing - recruitment, gains and losses. Currently they have 657 active employees.
--Interim CEO Mike Layfield report: Briefly discussed strategic plan and “Seven Pillars of Excellence.” Overall goal is to “delight the customer.” This was the last meeting for Commissioner Grethe Cammermeyer, who is resigning. She was praised and applauded for 11 years of service.
--Executive Session. The Board clearly advertised several executive sessions held on Jan. 18 and
19 to discuss candidates for the vacant permanent CEO position. When the board came out of executive session, they announced that they had asked HealthTech (current hospital management
team) to set up interviews with several CEO candidates. No votes were taken.
List any issues on the agenda relevant to any LWV state or local positions or programs:
Possibly access to affordable healthcare.
Do you recommend local League action or study on any of these issues? NO
Was the meeting conducted in an open, business-like, and civil manner? YES
Consider the following questions and respond if relevant.
FEATURE EVALUATED COMMENTS
Was the agenda made available prior to and at the meeting? Yes, but no supporting documentation
Did members adhere to the provided agenda? Were any non-agenda items discussed? Yes, stuck to
Was there adequate discussion of issues? Yes. Little discussion, but some questions, and praise for leadership team and staff.
Were any “Executive Sessions” called? Yes. To discuss candidates for permanent CEO position, currently held by interim CEO.
Was there adequate opportunity for public input? Yes
Was background material available to the public? Not that I could find.
Did any member recuse themselves during the meeting? For what reason? No
List any other concerns or observations:
The Board of Commissioners, with leadership team and staff, met in person at WH’s Health Education Center. I attended online via Zoom. Because of the way the camera was set up, it was difficult to see who was speaking. It was also difficult to hear at times, particularly the commissioners. It was easier to hear staff. Members of the Board of Commissioners were not introduced and did not appear to have nameplates so I could not identify who was who. It would probably be better to attend these meetings in person.
Board President Ron Wallin made it clear that public input was welcome, and he asked at several times during the meeting whether there was anyone who wanted to comment. Near the top of the agenda was discussion of a letter to U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen. However, there was no mention of what the letter was about.
Several staff members gave reports and shared various documents on the screen, but copies of reports were not readily provided on the website, so it was difficult to see the details of the reports.
Observer E-mail: email@example.com Date submitted: 01/19/2023