Business Owners Schell, Warren Named to Health District Board

For the first time since mass resignations occurred earlier this summer, a full complement now exists on the five-member board of directors of Lake Fork Health Service District with the appointment of two new directors — Mike Schell and Janelle Warren — at the board’s meeting Monday morning, August 21. Schell and Warren, both of whom have extensive private sector business experience, join incumbent health district directors Shawna Shidler and Jerry Johnson. A fifth director, EMT-Intermediate Becky Campbell, was appointed to the board on August 10. Campbell is currently traveling and attended Monday’s meeting by speaker telephone. The three new directors — Campbell, Schell and Warren — fill vacancies which occurred in late July and early August when former directors Janella Cox, Carole Clauss and Fred Stapleton abruptly resigned in the wake of the resignations of medical center physician Dr. Beuford Durmon and his wife, Gudrun. With the departure of the three former directors, Johnson and Shidler worked through negotiations resulting in a contract with Dr. Durmon in which he remains as overseeing physician at the local clinic on an interim basis. In sharp contrast to meetings of Lake Fork Health Service District earlier this summer which were marked by acrimony at standing-room-only meetings, conviviality prevailed at this past Monday morning’s meeting in which a 15-member audience repeatedly applauded as new board members were seated and initial discussion took place on the constitution and timeline for a seven-person medical director search committee. Monday’s health district meeting, the first attended by Dr. Beuford Durmon since the recent uproar, also included discussion on the creation of a citizen advisory council to aid the health service district board, and routine updates which included announcement that former Pagosa Springs, Colorado, resident Krista Moore has been hired as new Registered Nurse at Lake City Area Medical Center. A special meeting of the new five-member board of directors of Lake Fork Health Service District is tentatively scheduled next Monday morning, August 28, to further finalize the makeup and timeline for a seven-person medical director search committee. Referencing creation of the committee charged with finding a suitable, long-term replacement for Dr. Durmon, medical board member Jerry Johnson noted “timing is of essence.” “At the same time, however, we don’t want to sacrifice quality as we look at every living and breathing candidate.” Johnson further clarified that in his view the search committee’s mission will be to “whittle through the haystack and come up with a short list” which will be formally vetted. As part of Dr. Durmon’s ongoing interim contract with the health service district, he will serve on the search committee and take part with fellow committee members in identifying suitable prospects. Also repeatedly mentioned as a candidate for the search committee is Nancy Zeller, along with one or two health service board directors and representation by both year-round and seasonal residents to include individuals with past health service district and medical experience. Among those suggested for search committee membership were past medical board chairperson Erin Cavit, who was suggested by Zeller, and Becky Campbell’s suggestion that committee membership might include seasonal resident Clyde Rutherford, a retired physician with extensive medical recruiting experience. Campbell also suggested that an EMT representative, potentially Rick Hernandez, should be included on the search committee. From the audience, Dr. Durmon said he foresees his role as two parts, one being as a member of the committee looking at candidates, and the other assisting in defining a revised job description for the new physician position. Dr. Durmon also advised that the board should “free up some money” in order to advertise for the new medical position. “There are some places I think we need to be looking and we need to put some money into that.” Medical board directors emphasized that they will continue to seek applications — both verbal and written — from individuals wishing to assist on the search committee, with further finalization of committee membership expected at next Monday’s special morning board meeting. Separate from the now-forming search committee, audience member Rick Hernandez advised the health district board on the potential creation of a larger and more permanent “patients’ advisory council” to assist the medical board and serve at the pleasure of the medical director and board. Board constitution, he recommended, might total seven to 10 members representing a wide range of demographics. Nancy Zeller, also in the audience, concurred, likening the proposed new council as a “community voice” to assist and take on assignments from the health district board. Continuing with his statement to the board, Hernandez cited “one other thing on the radar.” Hernandez said he would like the board to review Dr. Durmon’s compensation package “and increase it if possible.” In routine business and reports to the board prior to adjournment at 9:12 a.m. Monday, directors Johnson and Shidler, newly-seated Mike Schell and Janelle Warren, and with Becky Campbell on speaker phone, approved paying $12,769 for a new hematology analyzer which had originally been considered by the old board. The new replacement machine, which comes at a $5,000 discount from the supplier, replaces an older analyzer which will be no longer supported by year’s end. Dr. Durmon stated that the equipment upgrade is a “necessary thing” and comes at an opportune time. The new analyzer, he said, comes with improved features, including the ability to “produce reports that help with lab certification organization.” The motion to purchase the new equipment came with all five board members voting in the affirmative. In his report to the board, Dr. Durmon credited the health service board for covering necessary topics at its meeting, “we’ve covered what was needed” in terms of purchasing the “big item,” the new hematology analyzer, and discussion on the search committee. “Running of the clinic,” he said, is routine, and the clinic staff “is taking responsibility for themselves and doing a good job.” In terms of clinic staffing, he reported that Krista Moore, who formerly lived in Pagosa Springs, has been hired as the new Registered Nurse at Lake City Area Medical Center. Durmon briefly related that Moore received her accreditation from CU-Colorado Springs and formerly lived at Leadville, Colorado. She was visiting in Lake City earlier this summer on a day trip when she toured the local medical clinic and casually wondered “whether they needed a nurse?” On returning home, Moore, according to Dr. Durmon, confirmed the nurse vacancy two hours after it was formally posted, applied and was hired. “Life in Pagosa was too busy for her,” Durmon told the board. Medical board members expressed both relief and excitement at the announcement of Moore’s hiring, board chair Shidler noting the addition of the new RN is a “clear benefit to the staff which have been working their butts off.” Also reporting at Monday’s meeting was clinic dentist Dr. Uchida who stated “my life is a lot easier” as the result of hiring a new dental assistant, Gunnison resident Jennifer Brent who commutes to Lake City five times a month. Dr. Uchida described the new dental assistant as a “young, bright person.” As a heads up to the health district on dental-related expenses on the horizon, Uchida said he is in process of installing a new closed water system at the clinic office which will result in reduced bacterial count in the water. He said the closed system is relatively simple to operate, is low maintenance and will result in added expense of approximately $1,000 per year. Further afield, Dr. Uchida said he has no cost estimates as yet for an EPA-mandated installation of equipment which screen and separate amalgam from effluent which is flushed down the sewer system. Government regulations require that the amalgam separator is in operation by 2019, he said.