The Southern Humboldt Community Healthcare District governing board elected officers and received committee assignments at a special organizational meeting held last Thursday, Jan. 17.
This was the first board meeting for newly-elected board members Judi Gonzales and David Ordonez.
Barb Truitt, the previous vice-president of the board, was unanimously chosen as the new board president. Gary Wellborn, who has served eight years as a member of the finance committee and as a board member for the past two years, was unanimously elected vice-president/secretary.
The SHCHD board also has three standing committees. The president and vice-president are always members of the executive committee, which includes administrator Harry Jasper.
One board member joins the medical staff committee. Customarily this is the president's role, but Truitt appointed Wellborn because of his background in disaster preparedness.
The assignment of two board members to the finance committee created the most discussion. Wellborn and Corinne Stromstad were the previous board representatives to the finance committee, which also includes the administrator and three community members.
Gonzales had recently attended a leadership roundtable for members of public and non-profit boards, at which she learned that ideally committee membership should be rotated every two years so that all board members have the opportunity to learn different aspects of governing their organization.
”It's good to have one person with experience, and one person learning,” she said, admitting that even after attending many finance committee meetings, “I still don't get it all, it's that complicated.”
Ordonez suggested keeping Wellborn and Stromstad on the finance committee for at least another year because of the “tsunami of change that's coming” in Medicare and Medi-Cal, SHCHD's two major payors. “I don't want to change crew members in the middle of a crisis,” he said.
One of the experienced committee members could mentor a new board member, who can attend the finance meetings to learn and ask questions, he added. Gonzales said she was interested.
Administrator Harry Jasper reminded the board that the finance committee does not make final decisions, but acts only as a review panel and advisor to the full board.
Following the discussion Truitt pointed out that as president it is her responsibility to appoint committee members, and she re-appointed Stromstad and Wellborn.
The board also has several special ad hoc committees that address specific issues. Truitt called for volunteers and then appointed Gonzales and Stromstad to the board policy and by-laws committee, Ordonez and herself to the community outreach committee, and Ordonez and Wellborn to the new facility committee.
Gonzales asked whether a new facility committee is necessary right now. California state law requires all hospitals to meet strict seismic requirements by 2030, and for SHCHD this means relocating the hospital to a new building. One of the goals of the district's strategic plan is to “build and occupy a new facility by 2025.”
Wellborn replied that the issue is “simmering,” but Ordonez disagreed, saying the “drop-dead date of 2030 will come around sooner than you think.”
Jasper, who has been meeting with the district's architects regarding changes to the laboratory and creating a new space for a CT scanner, recommended that the committee be changed to “facility advisory committee” to cover all potential projects.
The board also decided to add a new committee to continue participation in the county hazard mitigation plan. Wellborn has been working on this as a solo project and welcomed Ordonez's offer to join him on a committee.
Humboldt County currently has a planning grant to bring new local partners into the county hazard mitigation plan, which enables participants to receive funding for projects that reduce or mitigate the impacts of natural disasters like earthquakes and floods. The county hopes to have a revised plan including new partners ready to submit to the Federal Emergency Management Agency by the middle of this year.
The board also agreed to maintain its current meeting schedule, with the regular board meeting set for the Thursday following the fourth Tuesday of each month. The finance committee meets on the fourth Tuesday to review financial reports for the board's approval.
Additionally, the board president and one other member attend the Quality Improvement Team (QIT) meetings, which are on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month. At QIT meetings all managers and directors get together to report on their departments and work together on problems.
Truitt recommended that the board continue with the current practice of rotating attendance among all the board members so that everyone gets to attend a QIT meeting at least once every other month. Wellborn said he has been attending these meetings for years and would be glad to give up his slot to the newer members.
The board also discussed a long list of seminars and conferences held by the many organizations to which SHCHD belongs, including the Association of California Healthcare Districts, the California Hospital Association, and the California State Rural Health Association.
Various board members are expected to attend these meetings, most of which are held outside Humboldt County. Assignments will be made at future meetings.
This Thursday, Jan. 24, the SHCHD board will meet for its first full business meeting of the year. Members of public are welcome to attend, and time is made available for public comment. Board meetings begin at 1 p.m. and are held in the Dimmick Meeting Room in the Garberville hospital.