St. Joe's board of directors officers resignThe president, vice president and treasurer for the board of directors at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Health Center in Dickinson have resigned their positions.
By: Alan Reed, The Dickinson Press
DICKINSON - The president, vice president and treasurer for the board of directors at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Health Center in Dickinson have resigned their positions.
The president, vice president and treasurer for the board of directors at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Health Center in Dickinson have resigned their positions.
President Nancy Johnson, Vice-President Guy Moos and Treasurer Tom Ribb met with St. Joe’s CEO Claudia Eisenmann on Thursday, Feb. 7, at which time they resigned effective immediately.
“They have decided they will continue to advocate for the hospital, continue to advocate from an unofficial vantage point,” Eisenmann said of what the trio told her.
The hospital board of directors acts in an advisory capacity, and as the officers of the board, Johnson, Moos and Ribb also served as the board’s Executive Committee.
“I have to respect anybody who has contributed the way they have,” Eisenmann said. “I certainly regret their resignations and wish it hadn’t happened, but I respect their decision.”
Johnson, Moos and Ribb were not available to jointly visit about their resignations, as Johnson was out of town Thursday.
Eisenmann met for the first time with the remaining board members on Valentine’s Day to formally announce the officers’ resignations.
“What will happen now is I’ll take some time to review all the credentials of the balance of the board members that we have,” she said. “We’ll kind of look at everybody’s tenure and what their experience level is and that type of thing. Ultimately, it is the board’s decision and vote that will determine the next chairperson of the board.”
Once new officers are elected, Eisenmann said the board’s bylaws state the board then nominates individuals to fill the vacant positions. Those nominees are then reviewed by Catholic Health Initiatives, which owns the Dickinson health care center.
“All together, I see this process potentially taking one to two months at a maximum,” she said.
St. Joe’s continues to seek ways to recover from $13.2 million in operational losses from fiscal 2002 to the end of the most recent fiscal year this past June 30.
While serving on the board, Johnson, Moos and Ribb helped to secure an increase in reimbursements from Blue Cross/Blue Shield for services provided by St. Joe’s, Eisenmann said.
“That’s not an easy thing to do. We’ve also facilitated a community wide financial meeting on the status of St. Joe’s. It took a lot to get that meeting together,” Eisenmann said of the visit that included all three members of the state’s congressional delegation and the administrator of the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services.
Hospital officials with congressional and state support also were successful in working to get CMS to reopen a rural hospital demonstration project that it’s now applying for to obtain additional revenues over two years, she said. Lastly, Eisenmann said since this past July, about $2.1 million in labor expenses also have been cut.
“I think you have to look at the fact that we exist in really uncertain times. We’ve accomplished a lot really, really good things,” she said.
The last and most important component hospital officials are still pursuing is to gain a critical access designation from CMS, which results in substantial increased reimbursements for services. The existing obstacle is the Richardton Memorial Hospital and Health Center acquired the critical access designation in 2001. This precludes St. Joe’s from getting the same designation, as federal guidelines state critical access hospitals cannot exist within 35 miles of each other.
Richardton officials have stated they are pursuing avenues that allow them to give up their critical access designation while remaining financially viable.
In a recent letter to the Press, Richardton Administrator Jim Opdahl stated for the facility to give up its critical access designation, it must convert from a hospital to a licensed skilled nursing facility with a provider-based rural health clinic, while also achieving its fundraising goals through an ongoing capital campaign.
Opdahl wrote this would require Richardton to acquire up to 20 skilled nursing home beds, comply with federal and state licensing rules and regulations, acquire waivers of existing state laws, rules and regulations as they pertain to an existing moratorium on new nursing home beds, nursing home payment system cost limits and ownership of a medical clinic by an entity other than a physician or hospital.