Farmer, Branes New PMC Board Members, Ruedeman Elected Chairman

Ron Farmer was sworn in as a new Prowers Medical Center board of director during the hospital’s annual board meeting, Wednesday, May 23. Julie Branes was recommended by the board as a replacement for Andy Wyatt, who, following his second place finish on the May 8 board election, declined to accept the position. Chairman Jan Hall addressed the audience, stating that letters of interest had been received by Jay Brooke, Executive Director for High Plains Community Health Center and Vince Yoder, one of the election candidates. Ron Farmer said the addition of Brooke could help to create partnerships between PMC and HIgh Plains, to the advantage of the overall medical community. Candy Ruedeman and Marge Campbell echoed Farmer’s sentiments about Brooke, but as Farmer noted, there could be some conflicts of interest with Brooke as a director, while Julie Branes would also be able to bring some new ideas and energy to the board. Director Marge Campbell said that while all the board members saw various levels of merit in Brooke’s serving as a director, she and other members believed that he would be most effective in developing new areas of accord and cooperation with PMC by working to that end from outside the director circle. Concluding their discussions, the board decided to nominate Branes to replace Wyatt as a director. She and Farmer were administered their oaths of office by Prowers County Clerk and Recorder, Jana Coen. Farmer noted later in the meeting, that the letter submitted by Brooke stressed that with the new board members and new interim CEO, Craig Loveless, a door was now open that provided an opportunity for forging a new alliance between both medical providers. Loveless also noted that Brooke was one of the first persons to welcome him to the community in his new role, and both chief executives would continue to work to foster a new element of cooperation for heath care in the community.

The other new line up among board members was the election of a new Chairman of the Board for the next fiscal year. Candy Ruedeman was elected three votes to two for the position with Ron Farmer receiving the two votes. He was elected Vice Chairman on a unanimous vote. Julie Branes replaced Ruedeman as Secretary-Treasurer, Paula Appel remains Recording Secretary, John Lefferdink was selected as Legal Counsel and The Lamar Ledger remains the Official Notification Publication.

The $5 million bond issue for the Rehab-Outpatient Clinic, defeated by a wide margin in the May 8 election, is still on the board’s radar. Farmer asked John Lefferdink if there were any options for a second election or any other fund-raising alternatives. “We might have to wait for a full two years before the district can consider another election,” Lefferdink answered. The board members, and CEO Loveless stated that area residents recognized the need for the development of a clinic, but the manner in which it was presented to the community wasn’t clear on how well the money would be applied to a serviceable facility. All agreed the need is still there, but blueprint revisions are essential before it can move forward. Interim CEO Loveless said he has already started considering options, one of which is not quite a grant, but rural health funding programs are available. He said he’ll provide updates to the board on his findings.

By a board vote, the contract for Dr. Susanne Levene was not extended. Dr. Levene began her employment with Prowers Medical Center as a General Surgeon in May, 2010. Prior to the vote, board members discussed a temporary extension which would allow the hospital and Dr. Levene to conduct concurrent searches for a replacement and a new medical facility. Director Branes abstained as she stated she was not comfortable casting an uninformed vote on the matter. Dr. Levene’s contract will expire on June 30, 2012. The board approved the hiring of a locum physician while a search for her replacement is being conducted.

The board of director’s meeting will be covered in two articles. The follow-up article will provide coverage of some of the general housekeeping matters covered in the board’s annual meeting agenda and will also cover some of the developments from Wednesday’s meeting that should provide a positive impact on the board, hospital staff, other medical providers in the community and area residents regarding the quality of health care the hospital is working to provide. Board members and the meeting audience in general witnessed what may be the turning of a new page for improved communication and cooperation for those connected to Prowers Medical Center.

By Russ Baldwin

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