Dr. Gina Carr, Clinic’s New Physician, Attends Health District Board Meeting

Lake Fork Health Service District Directors, meeting at the medical clinic at 8 a.m. on Monday this week, gave an enthusiastic greeting to the clinic’s new medical director, Dr. Gina Carr, who attended the meeting.
As previously reported, Dr. Carr is a Buena Vista, Colorado, physician who has been selected to replace Dr. Beuford Durmon as director at Lake City Area Medical Center.
Smiling broadly, as she took at seat at Monday morning’s health district meeting, Dr. Carr noted “I am so happy to finally be here.” She reported that on her visits to the clinic she has had productive meetings with Physician Assistant Bob Downs and Family Nurse Practitioner Sherry Huisman which she termed “good communication.”
During her meetings with Huisman and Downs, Carr said a principal topic has been updates regarding patient care at the Lake City medical facility.
Dr. Carr told the health board that she has been reviewing future capital expense costs at the clinic and is working on certification with Colorado Dept. of Transportation which will allow her to provide CDL (Commercial Driving License) exams. Dr. Carr is additionally enrolled in an online course for certification meeting Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) requirements. Once complete, she will be able to oversee the Lake City clinic’s laboratory functions which are currently overseen by her predecessor, Dr. Durmon.
She told the board she expects laboratory accreditation by June when she is here full-time.
The new medical center director is at present dividing time between her practice in Buena Vista in the Arkansas Valley and is commuting to Lake City on a part-time, every-two-weeks basis.
She begins full-time work at Lake City Area Medical Center effective June 1 this year. Dr. Carr and her husband, public school educator Brian Carr, are reportedly now house hunting in the Lake City area.
Health district board directors giving Dr. Carr an enthusiastic welcome at the February 19 meeting were board chair Shawna Shidler, Mike Schell, Janel Warren and Becky Campbell, with Jerry Johnson attending by conference phone call.
Staff members on hand for the meeting were medical providers Downs and Huisman, and clinic administrative staff Business Manager Jessica Whiddon, Front Office Coordinator Malinda McDonald, and Billing Supervisor Tina Coniglio. Audience members were past health district board member Erin Cavit, and Nancy Zeller and Scott Beedy representing the medical center endowment committee.
Discussion topics at the morning workshop led off with a detailed report by the med clinic’s IT provider Dan Wampler on the potential for vastly upgrading
internet connection with the installation of fiberoptic cable. Wampler also works as IT provider at Lake City Community School and initially sought proposals for fiber upgrades for the school from both CenturyLink and Simply Broadband.
Although the school ultimately concluded the estimated $1,000 per month fiberoptic upgrade was too expensive, Wampler offered several options for internet upgrade at the local medical clinic. He prefaced his remarks by stating that fiberoptic cable already exists in Lake City but is only in use as far as the CenturyLink building on Gunnison Avenue.
Wampler received proposals for fiberoptic upgrade to the clinic from both CenturyLink and Amigo Net’s Simply Broadband, the latter leasing an existing fiber line from CenturyLink.
CenturyLink, according to Wampler, has the ability to increase the clinic’s service from the present 25 megabits to 100 megabits up and down via a fiberoptic connection. Cost for the installation is a $500 one-time charge connecting fiber to a pole closest to the clinic, after which Wampler estimated the clinic would expend between $1,200 and $1,500 to run the fiber into the clinic.
Monthly charge for the 100 megabit service from CenturyLink would be $970, Wampler cautioning that the timeline for actual installation might be a year or more.
Wampler also reported to the health board on a similar proposal from Simply Broadband which offers broadband service via communication towers on Bristol Head and Hill 71.
Simply Broadband has an ambitious plan to install faster service broadband throughout Lake City by extending a network of underground fiberoptic cables with the capability of serving Wagner Public Library, municipal offices in the Armory, Lake City Community School, crossing beneath Highway 149 to run lines to the medical clinic and up Henson Street to county administrative offices in the courthouse and Coursey Annex.
Simply Broadband intends to start underground lines as soon as the ground thaws this May.
Simply Broadband states that fiberoptic installation to the clinic would provide up to 200 megabits both up and down at a fee of $500 per month. Wampler stated that Simply Broadband had reduced the monthly charge based on being allowed to install a roof-top “access point” which would be a conduit to serve other customers in the area.
Asked for his recommendations, Wampler told health district directors that he would prefer Simply Broadband. He noted that Simply Broadband had power source problems last year as the result of leased connections on Hill 71 but that the company, Amigo Net, is now in process of installing independent power sources
Wampler indicated that fiberoptic communications supplied by Simply Broadband with wireless transmission via Hill 71 and Bristol Head offers greater continuity compared to CenturyLink which relies on a single fiber line installed between Lake City and Gunnison. “And in the event that line is down,” Wampler said, “you will be down.”
The board took no action on either fiberoptic proposal and will in the meantime take into account the clinic’s present internet connectivity and look into potential funding sources if internet access is expanded in the future.
In her update to the health board, Malinda McDonald reported a total of 258 patients were seen at the medical center during the month of January, 2018, compared to 283 patients for the same month in 2017. The January patient tally includes 155 individuals who were seen by Physician Assistant Bob Downs and 103 who were consulted by Family Nurse Practitioner Sherry Huisman.
The dental patient count for January, 2018, was 52, compared to 72 in January, 2017.
In discussion items during the board’s workshop, health directors returned to the topic of mandatory drug testing for clinic employees, with preliminary draft wording planned for next meeting; the board is also considering a tiered revamping of pricing for medications which are dispensed through the medical center.
In reference to current medication pricing, board chairperson Shawna Shidler described it as “subjective and objective at the same time,” with a minimal price markup in order to cover costs. The clinic’s dispensary, she added, “was never intended to make money.”
The board briefly discussed a cost of living increase for on-call clinic nurses who are currently paid $20 for 12 hours, $40 for an entire day for telephone availability off-duty. It was concluded that the current sign-in time sheet and periodic review is sufficient in terms of employee punctuality and attendance, including employees who are on-call. “The main thing here is communication,” said Becky Campbell.
From the audience, Erin Cavit reported on increased local medical care which is available at the clinic through Veterans’ Administration Choice40. Instead of the more cumbersome HealthNet, Choice40 is geared toward veterans who live 40 or more miles distant from a VA facility. With prior VA approval, vets can receive medical care at the local clinic and the clinic will be reimbursed. Best yet, according to Cavit, if the veteran lists Lake City Area Medical Center as their primary health care giver, they can visit the clinic for consultation without prior approval.
Health directors briefly discussed the planned retirement of EMS Director Jerry Gray in the next year or year and a half, and expressed glowing assessments of current EMS services in the Lake City area.
Board member Mike Schell commented “we must do whatever is necessary to keep EMS where it is.” Schell recounted his dissatisfaction with a recent emergency visit to Gunnison Community Hospital where lengthy paperwork caused a family member to miss the hospital’s prescribed time for an MRI scan. With the MRI technician not on duty in Gunnison, and no nighttime MRI in Montrose, Schell said he was compelled to drive through the night to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction to have the MRI performed.
During the health board’s regular meeting, directors unanimously approved a motion implementing a three percent medical rate fee increase effective March 1. The rate increase, rounded up to an even figure, is minimal, examples including the $15 charge for a flu shot, which goes to $16 with the rate increase, and a regular office visit which was $78 and will now be $79.
Lake Fork Health District’s workshop on Monday ran from 8 a.m. until 9:25 a.m., when the regular meeting was commenced and concluded at 9:42 a.m.
The health service board of directors meets the third Monday of each month, its next regularly scheduled meeting Monday, March 19, in the Zeller Wellness Center at the medical center.