by Samantha White
Due to scheduling conflicts concerning the holiday season, the November and December meetings of the Harney County Health District Board of Directors were combined, and a single meeting was held Dec. 3.
During the meeting, Harney District Hospital (HDH) Chief Nursing Officer Barb Chambers said the hospital worked with Dr. Kelly Mingus of Smile Burns Oregon to provide a free oral cancer screening Nov. 14.
“We had around 10 local residents take advantage of the screening, and Dr. Mingus found three of the 10 patients with questionable concerns regarding oral cancer and others with a variety of dental problems,” Chambers reported.
She added that the patients who showed signs of oral cancer were chewing tobacco users.
Board member Ann Vloedman suggested that the hospital remind the public about the dangers of chewing tobacco as well as the importance of oral screenings.
Board member Tim Smith suggested placing posters in the local high schools to inform students about these statistics.
Vloedman added that no one under the age of 30 participated in the screening.
Dr. Jeffrey Mathisen, a general surgeon at HDH, said teachers and coaches can make a difference by intervening when they catch students using chewing tobacco.
Dr. Mathisen also stated that the spread of oral cancer to adjacent lymph nodes is almost immediate.
Chambers said Dr. Mingus referred patients showing signs of cancer to oral surgeons.
Board chair Dan Brown commended Dr. Mingus for his efforts and said he’d like to see the oral health screening be repeated.
Chambers also reported that she attended an Ebola workshop, which was provided by the Deschutes Public Health Office Nov. 7 in Bend.
She said St. Charles Medical Center (SCMC) will take Ebola patients at its Redmond campus for up to 96 hours, before transporting them to one of the six Oregon facilities that accept and provide treatment for them. She said SCMC also contracted with a special ambulance service to transport patients to and from its Redmond campus and has spent close to $250,000 on renovations, equipment and education.
“I’m blown away by what St. Charles has done on Ebola,” Chambers said. “I don’t understand the expense.”
Regarding HDH’s preparation for Ebola, Chambers said, “I think we do a great job with our resources and stewardship of our resources. We are prepared as much as we need to be.”
Clinic Manager Stacie Rothwell said HDH Family Care received “tremendously favorable” feedback from auditors from the Oregon Health Authority who visited Nov. 4 to survey the clinic’s Tier 3 Medical Home designation.
“They offered many compliments to the progress that we have made as a Tier 3 and noted that they will be using many of the things we do at HDH Family Care as examples to the other Tier 3 clinics that they survey in the future,” Rothwell reported.
The board received an audit presentation from Eide Bailly LLP for fiscal year 2014.
The presenter said no difficulties were encountered in conducting the audit, and he complimented Chief Financial Officer Catherine White, management, and staff for their “excellent cooperation.”
He said HDH has quite a bit of debt, but explained that it has a newer facility. He added that the salaries of HDH staff are in line with those of other critical access hospitals, but said the hospital could reconsider its prices as long as the community could stand the changes.
Brown suggested that the board’s finance committee review the audit and bring any questions to the next board meeting.
In other business, the board:
• received a report concerning the overall state of the district from Chief Executive Officer Jim Bishop, titled State of the Harney County Health District November 2014. (For the full text of the report, please see page 20 of the Dec. 10, 2014 issue of the Burns Times-Herald; )
• discussed ongoing efforts to reach out to local veterans concerning the medical services available at HDH;
• reviewed policy 100.030 “Code of Conduct,” and approved it without changes;
• reviewed policy 100.031 “Board Member Confidentiality.” The word “yearly” was removed from the sentence, “All board members shall complete a yearly HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act] refresher training.” The board approved the policy as amended;
• reviewed policy 100.035 “Duties of the Chairperson.” The sentence, “No one board member shall serve as chairperson for more than two consecutive years,” was removed. The policy was approved as amended.
• granted medical staff privileges to physician assistant Brad Scott (orthopedic); Dr. Milton Kim (surgery); Dr. Stephen Kornfield, Dr. Robert Boone, Dr. Cora Calomeni, and Dr. William Martin (oncology); and Dr. Patrick Brown (radiology).
The next Harney District Hospital Board meeting will be at 6 p.m. Jan. 28 in the downstairs meeting room at the hospital.