PMC Board Ends Dr. Portner’s Hospital Privileges, Closing Las Animas Clinic July 31

PMC Board, Meeting in Wiley Community Center

PMC Board, Meeting in Wiley Community Center

Following a brief executive session which began the PMC board of director’s meeting, Wednesday, June 24, the board voted unanimously to not renew hospital privileges for Dr. Barry Portner, effective immediately.  Dr. Portner, in a brief phone conversation with the Prowers Journal on Thursday, said this has been the result of a three year legal battle with the hospital and he and his attorney, Mark Davis of Lamar, would issue a statement in the near future.  The most recent discussion between both parties was held on June 11 in a special board meeting of the hospital board.  Included in that meeting were board members as well as Don Banner, Hospital Attorney, Mark Davis and Dr. Barry Portner and Linda Siderius, Legal Counsel for MEC via telephone.  No action was taken following that meeting.

The June 24 board meeting was held at the Wiley Community Center.  The board voted unanimously to close the Las Animas Clinic because of an absence of financial viability.  Chief Executive Officer, Craig Loveless, said that the clinic had not broken even over the past three years and with the retirement of a nurse practitioner at the clinic who is at the end of their career, it was recommended to be closed as of July 31 of this year.  Loveless said there would be minimal impact to the hospital regarding ACO with the loss of the few Medicare patients who came to the clinic.

A change order contract with the construction firm, CPI was approved by the board.  A conversion from fluorescent to LED lighting will cost $56,240 and the firm expects the renovation project to go over its completion date by eleven days, given the recent heavy rains.  CPI is also looking into potential asbestos abatement in a portion of the renovation project, but because the study is not complete, could not provide the board with a target cost or additional delays, if any.

The Prowers Medical Center Foundation has developed a way to raise additional funds, working with the Safeway grocery store.  Safeway Community Giving Cards, can be loaded at the store as much as a customer wants when they make their purchases.  There is no new cost to the shopper other than the initial $20 cost for the card, purchased from Susan Lamont, Foundation Director.  Board President, Julie Branes explained, “The card will have that $20 loaded onto it and you can load extra funds when you go through the check out. When the cards are used to pay for groceries, up to 5% of the purchase will go to the PMC Foundation.” Craig Loveless added, “There’s no cost to the consumer whatsoever, it’s just Safeway’s way of contributing back to the Foundation.  You just have to load the card before you spend it.”

Gerald Parton, the hospital’s QHR Regional Vice President provided the board with some developments on a national level for hospitals.  Although it would not apply to Prowers Medical Center, Parton said there is federal legislation developing called the Rural Emergency Acute Care Hospital Act for facilities with under 50 beds.  The Act would reimburse qualifying hospitals at 110% of their regional costs if they relinquish their acute care beds in lieu of holding beds and transfer patients to be admitted to another facility.  These hospitals could hold a patient for 24 to 48 hours but all inpatients would then be transferred to an acute care hospital.  Parton said the action could eliminate the need for surgeons at some facilities if it passes.  He added that there’s a trend in which higher deductible insurance is causing an increase in bad debt collections with the new insurance packages being offered.  “It’s not because of uninsured patients, but those who are under-insured,” he explained.  Parton also mentioned a recent USA Today article, which he said he’d provide to the board regarding medical costs.  “Right now 80% of Medicare expenditures are being consumed by 15% of the population and most of that is in the last two days of life.”  He said he’d provide the board with the article for their review.

Board director, Julie Branes, said the members should review their meeting outreach policy at a future point as there has been scant participation by community members.  She indicated that meetings have been held in Granada, Holly and now in Wiley through the hospital district, but because of the low turnout, the board should make a decision as to whether they should continue the practice or find a new alternative for reaching the population in the county.

CEO Loveless reviewed his list of action items for the hospital, starting with weather delays on the hospital construction.  “We’ve noticed there is a water buildup under the Physical Therapy gymnasium, but the company is putting down a clay liner to act as a buffer to the moisture and a sump pump will keep it dried to continue work there.”  Loveless noted that a joint, four-hospital meeting at Parkview Hospital in Pueblo is being held to review and develop a network of shared services and a Community Health Needs Assessment, held every three years by medical providers in the county is coming up in the near future.  He also noted that the hospital is receiving a $60K Caring for Colorado Grant from the $110K requested to purchase a new sterilizer for the operating room.

Dr. James Smith, general surgeon for PMC described some of the action in the hospital emergency room the night of the multi-vehicle accident that occurred south of Lamar several weeks ago.  He said the staff, as many as 75 to 80 who were put on call, acted very professionally under the pressure of treating and stabilizing the injured to would be sent to other facilities.  “We only have a two bed emergency room and the ambulances were arriving with two patients per vehicle, so we had to act quickly to treat people, ready the beds for the next set of injured and make sure their needs were met.”  He told the board that the circumstances were very similar and on a par with the military emergency room ‘MASH’ style units he encountered in his Middle East duties.

Karen Bryant, hospital Chief Operating Officer, noted the hospital won the annual People’s Choice Award as the Best Clinic and Medical Center.
By Russ Baldwin


Filed Under: BusinesscommunityCountyFeaturedGranadaHealthHollyLamarWiley


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