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In the 24 hours since Bear Lake Memorial Hospital held its monthly board meeting, families of residents in the Skilled Nursing Facility learned that visitation would be canceled indefinitely due to the fact that a worker in the Facility tested positive for COVID-19. They were told that it wasn’t a “direct contact worker,” but it is still someone who works in the Facility. This makes several of the things talked about below in the Board Meeting report outdated.

As mentioned in the article, the hospital is responding to the exposure risk appropriately by testing staff and residents and following the applicable federal and state guidelines for long-term care facilities. The ongoing safety and health of the residents is their main priority.

This is just another reminder to all of us that we should be wearing masks and helping to prevent the spread of the virus. We should all be doing our due diligence to help as much as we can. Please be conscientious and considerate of others.

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Bear Lake Memorial Hospital held its monthly board meeting on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. All members of the board were present with the exception of Craig Culver.

Chairman Cordell Passey called the meeting to order and asked if there were any adjustments to the agenda, which there were none. He also welcomed everyone, especially all who called in to the meeting.

The first item of business was the Care Team Messenger, which included the People’s Choice Award Nominee for July 2020, Zach Shepherd. Chairman Passey made a nice comment about Zach and his efforts and said that he gets in and works and doesn’t complain and is happy to do what needs to be done.

Also recognized for their years of service were Talisa Dunford (5 years), Karen Hacking (5 years), Joel Smith (10 years), Molly Smith (15 years), and Angie Grunig (15 years).

With respect to approval of the past minutes, there were two small changes. The minutes were approved with those two changes.

Leslie Crane presented the finance reports saying that June was a good month and “more normal.” She reported that the hospital had $4.5 million in gross revenue with an operating income of $480,000, a net income of $133,702, and a year-to-date income of $167,173. The financial reports were approved as presented.

Tracy Park presented the Foundation Report. He said that they are continuing to work toward their goal of $2.5 million. They sent out their campaign letter, which has been successful but they are still receiving return mail. They have seen a lot of support in donations ranging from $50 to $100 as well as large donations. He thanked CEO Mike Blauer who has been very willing to make phone calls and do extra thank you’s. He also wanted to make sure that anyone who is supporting the hospital receives thank you’s “up to seven times and more.” Tracy said that CEO Blauer has helped out by making a special contact and appreciation for large donations. We have a generous community and he said he is thankful for that.

Tracy also mentioned that the hospital received a grant recently from the Idaho Community Foundation. They also received a grant from United Way of Southeastern Idaho to be used for assisting efforts in supporting the mental health of the Bear Lake Region. So far they have used those funds for the training books for the QPR training over the last few months.

The golf tournament is scheduled for August 29, the last Saturday of the month. They are expecting to have the same amount of teams as the last several years, which is 12 teams. They hope to have a great tournament, although it will be a little different than in past year with more simple food items. They also expect to have a great fund raising opportunity.

Chairman Passey mentioned that he will hear back on a grant request we made on August 27. That will be after our next board meeting, so we won’t report on that grant request to the board until the September meeting.

As far as reporting the Strategic Plan, CEO Blauer mentioned that they had a third-party company that had some employee health programs for them, but they went bankrupt.

Laurie Harrison gave the Safety and Quality Committee Report. She said that Mindi reported on a survey inspection for infection control that was done in the Skilled Nursing Facility. The surveyors checked their screening process, and they did a good job and the survey team was happy.

CEO Blauer said that they have tested residents and staff at the nursing home when there is an exposure concern multiple times. At the hospital facility, they haven’t tested all residents. They do it on a rotating basis to see if anyone tests positive. If anyone does test positive, then they will test everyone, residents included. Other risks will make it that way too. Once every month they test everyone.

The board approved bad debt for the month of June in the amount of $74,283.31.

Trecia Sparks gave the Compliance Report. She said that there has been a lot of discussion on HIPAA and what is enforceable with the COVID-19 virus. She said that when we are in a pandemic, they have to make sure that as much information is protected as possible, but also that those involved who may have been exposed get the proper information. The intent is to try to make sure everyone’s privacy has been protected.

CEO Blauer then gave the Management Update. He said that generally they are seeing an uptick in COVID cases. Just the day of this meeting, they were at 11 reported cases for the Bear Lake County. He also said that in reality, that isn’t all who have had the virus. Some of the cases in the area have been tourists that have come through, and some have been people who have been sick at home and haven’t been tested. As far as what they are doing at Bear Lake Memorial Hospital, they have the trailer set up and generally staffed from 8 a.m. until 1 or 2 p.m. to direct people to go there for testing. They have set up barriers to try to isolate people as needed. They are testing all employees in the nursing home and the Manor. They are taking precautions with everyone and all are wearing masks at work. He says it is challenging.

He also said as far as testing, they are sending tests out to a variety of commercial companies, and they can do in-house testing. They are making sure they have enough testing supplies.. It is a concern making sure everyone has enough tests. They are keeping on top of PPE and testing equipment. The testing turnaround time was getting better. It was two to five days, and then for a few weeks it took longer. At that point it almost felt useless. In the past week it has picked up a little. It continues to be a challenge, but he is proud of their team.

They have people working from home, and that is appropriate as cases continue to increase. Some work from home and then come in and work from the office when they need to, and they adjust as needed. Like a lot of things, it is dragging on longer than they initially hoped.

Why is there an uptick in people wanting to be tested? It is probably because people hear of someone that has tested positive and they want to be tested because of the exposure risk. People get concerned and want to be tested. There are a lot of factors. CEO Blauer said that he himself got tested recently because he had symptoms and knew he couldn’t go to work and expose others. He tested negative. It is becoming more of a reality in our area.

As for the construction work that is being done, a lot has been happening. They have put down base and gravel and dirt everywhere. Footings have been poured. They are really coming along over the past month. The oxygen tank has been removed and a new one has been put on the south corner. Over the next little while, there will be more ground work with pouring and slab work. CEO Blauer has been having ongoing meetings internally with architects and the construction team, and he says it is pretty exciting. They have moved the entrance and have the front and south entrances now There is a lot more signage out so people can find the emergency entrance. It is a little clunky, but they felt they needed the other entrance. They will continue to work on that and keep people updated.

The Daines building is still being remodeled to move the mental health team into it. He talked to Shaun Tobler, and Shaun feels they will move in early September. Shaun has been great and very supportive and involved. CEO Blauer hopes to dedicate some time at the beginning of the meeting next month to go look at the building.

CEO Blauer then reported on the fact that the newspaper reports Caribou Memorial Hospital is having challenges with an aging building and losing money with its long-term care facility. He wondered if anyone on the board had heard about it and how it may impact Bear Lake Memorial Hospital. Commissioner Vaughn Rasmussen commented that he knows Caribou is debating some pretty tough decisions. He said that they have invited him over a few times to see how Bear Lake Memorial Hospital does things. He wishes them the best because they have some tough decisions as commissioners because hey are a county hospital just like Bear Lake Memorial.

CEO Blauer then gave the City Block Grant Report. The grant is for $21,600 and the City wants any support of anything from $3,000 to up to half, which would be $10,800. Leslie brought up that being the biggest employer in the valley and the cosponsor, it would also help so that other businesses in town would not have to contribute. They all agreed, and a motion was made to approve participation in the City’s block grant request in the amount of half, which is $10,800, as a cosponsor of the project.

CEO Blauer then mentioned quickly that Dr. Larsen, the urologist that had been coming to the hospital as a visiting physician for many years and has been very well thought of, just retired on short notice. He is letting his patients know and they are trying to find a urologist to take his place. CEO Blauer said, “We appreciate him. He has been a great physician.”

At this point, there were three policies that were out for review: Compensation & Fringe Benefits Policy, Equipment Supplies Policy, and Procurement Using Federal Funds Policy. They are just for a general rule for any federal funds that might be procured over time and how they will handle them appropriately.

Dr. Jacobson gave the Medical Staff report. He said there was not much to add other than that they are looking for a new urologist. He added that Dr. Larsen did an amazing job. They are also continuing to evolve how they care of the COVID patients as the risks increase and they are doing all they can to keep the community safe.

Chairman Passey told Dr. Jacobson that he wanted to convey his appreciation for the medical staff members and his leadership.

In Around the Board, Lila Rigby asked how the recent hospitalized COVID case went. CEO Blauer told her that it went well. Angel DeClark added that they immediately admitted the patient to an isolation room and within the next day put barriers up and got prepared for a wave of patients just in case. They are keeping staff separate and taking precautions. They are not taking patients across the barriers. The patient luckily didn’t need a high level of care. It was more precautionary to make sure things went well, and they did.

Commissioner Rasmussen reported on the fact that Idaho’s response to COVID-19 is being pushed to a regional type instead of a state-wide process. He spoke about the Regional Health Plan that can be found on the Southeastern Idaho Health Department’s web page.

Chairman Passey then discussed the board retreat which had early on been planned to be in Logan. They all agreed that they should not go to Logan and that they should stay local and help out a local business by using their facility. It was agreed that they should set the example for the employees since they have asked them to follow these guidelines.

A motion was then made to go into Executive Session.

No decisions were made in Executive Session.

The meeting was then adjourned.

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