With four directors present and a fifth, Becky Campbell, attending by conference call, Lake Fork Health Service District met Monday morning, August 28, to finalize membership on a search committee to identify suitable replacements for medical director Dr. Beuford Durmon.
Following extended discussion between health directors Jerry Johnson, Shawna Shidler, Mike Schell, Janelle Warren, and Campbell, the board concluded on a seven-member search committee which was scheduled to meet Thursday morning, August 31, to determine the procedure for seeking medical director applicants.
Members of the newly-named search committee are Dr. Durmon, the present medical center director who is continuing his services on an interim basis; Becky Campbell – representing the health district board and Emergency Medical Services; Nancy Zeller, on behalf of medical center endowment committee; Dr. Clyde Rutherford, a retired physician with past experience recruiting medical staff; public representative Danielle Worthen; Jamie Scroggins, a second citizen representative who was an applicant for a position on the health board; and Jessica Whiddon who serves as business manager for Lake Fork Health Service District.
The search for a new medical director will include national advertising in medical related journals and online, and will also be based in part on a job description which is still being reviewed in terms of reflecting the hours which will be required seeing patients, on-call, and overseeing clinic operations.
An important aspect of the job description, according to audience member Lori Lawrence, will be to “reflect the philosophies and nuances of the community.”
Board members Shidler and Johnson will meet with Dr. Durmon in regard to specific wording in the clinic director’s job description.
Based on national Colorado Rural Health advertising for the Lake City job opening citing a salary in the $100,000 range, two physicians have already expressed a tentative interest. Lori Lawrence urged health board directors and the newly-named search committee not to rush into the selection.
“Take your time and make a very good decision,” she said, “this is a huge deal and we don’t want to grab just anyone.” She continued by noting that in essence “what we want is what we had with Dr. Durmon.
Durmon was always available and that’s what we’ve become used to,” she said.
A sobering fact referred to by both Lawrence, others in the audience and the health board directors is what the health district can actually afford to pay a new medical center director.
Health board chairperson Shawna Shidler summed it up by saying “Dr. Dumon was a deal.” She expressed her contention that qualified replacements are out there “but we have to be prepared to pay a lot more.”
The theme of health district finances and the bottom line of what the health district will be able to pay for a new clinic director continues as the board begins work on the 2018 budget. Much of this is new territory for a five-member board, only two of whom — Johnson and Shidler — have tenure on the board and the other three whose background on the board dates back only a matter of weeks.
New health district board member Janelle Warren is expressing interest in intensive workshops on the budgeting process, and also broader workshops to “set out ethically and legally where our boundaries as a board are.” Warren said a scheduled special workshop on health district policies and procedures will provide a “clear understanding what went wrong in the past and help us be sure we’re doing the right thing.”
Included in the yet-to-be-scheduled policies and procedures workshop will be a review of the health board’s relationship with Lake City Area Medical Center, bylaw updates and, lastly, board re-acquaintance with ROBERTS RULES OF ORDER.
Audience member Bernie Krystiniak also suggested that helpful background information on medical services in Lake City and creation of the health service district board is available by reading the endowment fund’s new book, MEDICINE IN THE MOUNTAINS.
The recurrent topic of what the health district can afford to pay a new supervising physician is complicated by predictions that all entities which receive property tax funding — in this case Hinsdale County, Hinsdale County School District and Lake Fork Health Service District as principal recipients — will be impacted by the looming Gallagher Amendment which goes into effect starting in January next year.
The health service district annually receives approximately $150,000 in property taxes, board business manager Jessica Whiddon advising that in light of Gallagher reassessment, the district should plan on a 15 percent reduction in 2018 taxes.
As explained by Lori Lawrence, who is Hinsdale County Treasurer, the Gallagher Amendment was approved by state voters in the early 1980s on the premise that approximately 45 percent of the state’s taxes should be accrued from residential property taxes. That ratio, she says, is now “out of whack” as the result of the “incredible housing market boom” which has occurred in recent years on the state’s Eastern Slope.
As a result of a dramatic increase in residential property valuations on the East Slope, and greater tax revenues, the amendment requires a state-wide reduction in residential property taxes from the current 7.96 percent down to 7.2 percent.
Hinsdale County Assessor Luke De la Parra is bracing for a county-wide reduction in property taxes in the $50,000 to $60,000 range, and potentially as high as $100,000, which won’t definitely be known until late December this year.
Under terms of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, the new 7.2 percent residential property assessment will remain in perpetuity and may not be increased, per the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights, unless voters give their approval.
“It’s going to be significant for all entities, including the county,” said Lawrence. And once decreased, she added, “it’s never going to go back up.”
Board chairperson Shidler urged fellow board members to know the district’s budget “inside and out.” Shidler noted “the bottom line is the budget” and how it correlates to the medical director’s salary range.
Questioned from the audience, business manager Jessica Whiddon confirmed that Dr. Durmon’s current salary is in the range of $100,000 and that his last salary review and increase occurred in January this year.
In concluding matters at their Monday morning meeting, Lake Fork Health Service District directors elected new officers — Shawna Shidler somewhat reluctantly accepted election as board chairperson; Mike Schell was elected secretary, and Janelle Warren and Becky Campbell will respectively serve as vice-chairperson and treasurer.
Upcoming meetings for Lake Fork Health Service District are a special budgetary meeting, and review of the medical director’s job description, on Monday, September 11, and the health board’s regular meeting, 8 a.m. Monday, September 18.