PMC Board to Consider Dr. Portner’s Employment Contract


The Prowers Medical Center Board of Directors has set a board meeting for Thursday, December 20, to discuss whether Dr. Barry Portner’s employment contract will be renewed. The public meeting will be held in the cafeteria beginning at 12:15pm. A special board meeting was held on November 1 to discuss Dr. Portner’s employment contract, dated April 28, 2012. The board went into executive session and no action was taken at that time. However, as two members of the board were not present in person for the meeting, board chairwoman Candy Ruedeman indicated that she would like to table a vote on the renewal of Dr. Portner’s employment at that point and make a final decision for board action no later than December 31, 2012. Portner was replaced as medical chief of staff at Prowers Medical Center by Dr. John Abbott earlier this month.

The directors held a brief, regular meeting this past Wednesday, December 12, and voted in favor of implementing policy revisions at the hospital, based on over three months of review and discussion by board members and department heads. Differences between policies and procedures were discussed by the board as well as how the changes will be reviewed and modified as they are being implemented into the New Year. Joshua Kotter, PMC Compliance Officer, explained that a system of checks and balances exists to make sure that the policy changes will be followed and stated that quite a few of the changes are simply cleaning up and discarding of old or duplicated policies.

Some delays in credential paperwork prevented complete reappointment of three physicians who have worked at the hospital at an on-going basis, well as the initial appointment of another physician. Board chairwoman Candy Ruedeman voiced her concerns of putting the hospital at risk without complete files of the physicians on-site, but was informed that a 90 day extension of to the current contracts would be acceptable.

Board members also voiced their concern regarding ‘he said-she said’ comments among hospital staff that some department managers were requiring employees to sign a gag order preventing them from making detrimental comments about the hospital. Chairwoman Ruedeman stated that she was informed about an incident in which an employee was called into a manager’s office for an alleged written comment that did not name an individual or even reference PMC, but was given a, “I know who you are and I know what you’re doing type of thing,” and admonished to “not let it happen again”. Ruedeman said she brought that matter to Loveless’ attention and the matter was straightened out. She said the employee feared for their job and did speak to the CEO, but that type of fear element is still out there among some hospital staff. Board member Ron Farmer asked to be emailed the document along with all other board members, and stated that hospital management should fully explain just what the document pertained to. Craig Loveless, hospital Chief Executive Officer, cast some light on the matter, saying that the hospital does have a standard of excellence policy employees are expected to follow, but the document in question only required employees to sign an ‘acknowledgement of receipt’ of the memo. Loveless said he would follow-up on the document to make sure it didn’t violate hospital policy.

A pump used in hospital surgery and other medical departments may have found a home. The unit is replacing an outdated pump. Several months ago, the board decided that a new building may have to be built to house the device. Unfortunately the site selected interferes with an outside connection for the hospital’s fire sprinkler system. Charles Martin, maintenance supervisor, said some room could be cleared in a break area to house the pump while the board decided if the new building would be warranted. The board followed the regular meeting with an executive session to discuss legal matters. The next regularly scheduled board meeting will be January 23, 2013.

By Russ Baldwin

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