Hospital board hires physician recruiting firm

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Fulton County Hospital Board met Monday, July 27 and discussed the hiring of a placement agency to help them fill the physician void left by Dr. Kauffman's absence.

Hospital Administrator Joe Hammond presented two companies, Timeline Physician Referral and Delta Physician Placement, and proposed the board move forward with Delta. Delta has experience with rural hospital placements, and received a glowing recommendation from the hospital administrator at the Washington County Medical Center who was very pleased with the physician Delta found for them. "Their approach to recruiting in general, and their broad reach is better than anything we could do on our own," said Hammond.

Costs for the service would total approximately $40,000, including relocation fees and other miscellaneous items related to the placement of the physician. According to Delta, the length of time from interview to placement is 39 days for a physician and 52 days for an internist, meaning the hospital could have a new physician in place by late September. If within six months, Delta was unable to match a physician to the hospital, they would only require a fee of $12,000 be paid.

Hammond envisions the incoming physician as being an entrepreneur, setting up practice within Salem at either the clinic next door to the hospital or in the offices with Dr. Bozeman and Dr. Moody. "We've got to do this. It's just what needs to be done right now," said Dr. Griffin Arnold, who has been covering cases at the hospital in Dr. Kauffman's absence. The board agreed to enter into an agreement with Delta Physician Placement.

Other items on the agenda included an update on the completed hospital roof repairs. Salem Police Chief and Board Chairman Al Roork went up to inspect the roof and said the new reflective white surface "was like looking into the sun" but was "cool as could be to the touch." Hammond remarked that the difference in temperature has been clearly noticed within the hospital as well, and air conditioning units have been running less frequently, which should lead to cost savings for the hospital.

$77,000 from the USDA Loan Contingency Fund which had been set aside for laparoscopic surgical equipment has been rolled back into the fund. Hammond said the decision has been made not to have an in-house surgeon, and thus the need for the laparoscopic equipment was no longer there. The funds can now be directed to several other needs, including the purchase of new patient beds.

The courtyard electrical project will be worked on beginning next week to replace the outdated transformer. Crawford Electric is planning to finalize the installation on the second Saturday in August, when the power will be re-routed into the new system.

Moving on, the board addressed the need for the hospital to have legal counsel on health care issues. Hammond spoke with Jim Teeter of the Arkansas Hospital Association who recommended the Health Law Firm and the Friday Firm. Local lawyer Dewayne Plumlee has worked previously with the Health Law Firm and specifically with Harold Simpson Jr. of the firm, and recommended them to Hammond. Hammond had Simpson update the board of Governor's By-Laws and the Medical Staff By-Laws, and asked the Board for permission to enter into an engagement agreement with the Health Law Firm to be the hospital's healthcare attorney.

The Health Law Firm charges between $170 and $290 per hour, and often has paralegals completing paperwork at just $45 an hour. The board agreed to move ahead with the engagement agreement.

The new Board of Governor's By-Laws, as drafted by Simpson from the Health Law Firm, were presented to board members for review. A motion to table acceptance until next month was carried, to give the board members time to review the changes and read over the by-laws.

In communications, Hammond reminded board members that the 79th annual meeting of the Arkansas Hospital Association was coming up Oct. 7-9, in Little Rock at the Peabody and Statehouse Convention Center. He encouraged the members to consider attending.

The hospital is also currently undergoing a Health Information Technologies Readiness Assessment, in anticipation of the future implementation of electronic records at the hospital. Hammond said the process has been going smoothly and included evaluating the computer proficiency of current medical staff and the organization as a whole.

Once the meeting was adjourned, former employee Sherry Keylon asked to approach the board, and stated that she had been refused her right to examine her employment records with the hospital. Hammond clarified that although some photo copies of records had been released to Keylon, that it was at the hospital's discretion whether or not to release photo copies of all of her records. He invited her to come and physically review her records while on premises during normal business hours

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