By LIBBY CLUETT
PALO PINTO COUNTY – Palo Pinto Hospital District board members Kathy Boswell, Michael Hopkins and Richard Dennis were sworn in Tuesday night to serve another two-year term, as was Dr. John Jones who, after a hiatus, will once again serve on the board as the hospital district’s chief of staff.
After certifying board members, trustees re-elected the presiding officers for one more year, which means Boswell will remain as president, J.C. Colton will continue serving as vice president and Tim Hopkins will serve as secretary.
In his CEO report, Harris Brooks announced that Dr. Candice Covington will begin her general surgery practice in Mineral Wells and with Palo Pinto General Hospital beginning Monday. He said she will office in what was formerly known as the West Town Clinic, where Dr. Michael Bailey practiced.
Dr. Ricardo Vela will become the director of the Family Health Clinic, taking over Dr. Sat Gupta’s position on Dec. 17, Brooks said. He added that PPGH will host a retirement party for Gupta on Dec. 10, 4-6 p.m., in the hospital’s café.
Brooks said the gazebo, pad and sidewalk is under construction for the new PPGH walking path. He noted that Mike Tincher has offered to donate his time and labor erecting and building the new gazebo and PPGH will provide the materials.
PPGH was recently certified by the Diabetes Education Accreditation Program, Brooks told trustees. He said this came about through the efforts and hard work of PPGH Dietician Janiel Werner. Werner offers a diabetes self-management education program at PPGH for anyone who has diabetes.
In other business:
• Dennis, who also serves as chair of the board’s Quality Committee, updated trustees on a draft letter the committee will send out to employees and physicians as a reminder on the “processes we follow regarding patient complaints and patient occurrences.”
“This is an excellent step to take by the board to remind all of us, first off, how important quality is and how to address quality issues as they arise,” Jones said of the quality committee letter.
He said he appreciated Dennis’ and the committee’s efforts to reach out to physicians in letter form and for reiterating the hospital’s quality processes to them.
• In his chief-of-staff report, Jones informed the board that medical staff officers were in place and said, “I look forward to working with those gentlemen.”
He said medical staff members appreciated the opportunity to meet with the board at the special-called meeting earlier in November, but added, “I think there’s still a great many questions remaining and a desire for further information and that you’ll provide them with that ultimately.”
“As far as my position as chief of staff serving on this board, I want to represent our medical staff well,” he said. “I want to represent each and every member of our medical staff and hope to communicate with them the board’s decisions and the reasons behind those an then be able to communicate back with you medical staff issues as they come along.
“I look forward to working on the board and serving the community, not just the medical staff, but the community as a whole,” Jones concluded.
• Trustee Tim Hopkins suggested the board consider obtaining requests for qualifications from planning firms to help evaluate the aging facility and help the board determine the best plan for the hospital campus in the future. He added it is important to focus on prevention and wellness in future infrastructure, instead of being reactive in regards to health care.
Chief Financial Officer Dee Waldow said it’s evident to the hospital what its equipment needs are, but not so much so with a facility plan.
“I think it’s a great idea to have an independent person come in and help us,” she said.
Hopkins said he would work on a list of companies that work on long-range facility planning and provide that to the board at a future meeting.
• Human Resource Director Mary Braddock reported on the HR department activities for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, including recruitment, retention, workforce management and compensation.
Braddock said that for recruitment PPGH expanded its target audience for open positions by implementing an online application system last January. She said the system automatically posts positions on job boards for the websites indeed.com and simplyhired.com. Prior to this route, job postings could strictly be viewed locally and now they can be viewed nationwide.
Since implementing this new system, PPGH saw a rise from 487 applicants in 2011 to 1,461 applicants for 54 open positions in 2012. Braddock said the online application system has been the most successful recruiting tool.
Braddock added that the HR department is working with managers on how to make the “right hire” to improve retention rates. The current overall retention rate is 81.8 percent, with a rate of 88 percent for full-time/part-time employees.
She also reported that the average age of PPGH employees has risen some, from 45 in 2011 to 47 years in 2012.
• Cancelled the December board meeting. Trustees will meet next on Jan. 22.
New general surgeon set to begin local practice Monday
By LIBBY CLUETT
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