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Employees Seek Office Upgrade

By Staff | Feb 25, 2009

A group of ladies who work in the office of Bradley K. Miller, D.O. came before the Wetzel County Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees Wednesday to seek its help in obtaining a new office.

Led by Physician’s Assistant Jill Fowler, the group described their office condition as disgraceful.

“It’s an embarrassment to us-and we feel to the hospital-the way it works,” said Fowler.

She said the hallways and restroom are very small, not really handicap accessible. It is hard to get Emergency Medical Services in with stretchers when necessary. The chart room is also very small.

Also, there is no air conditioning or heat in Fowler’s or Miller’s offices. One time this winter her office thermometer read 49 degrees.

“We also have concerns about privacy and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act),” said Fowler. “Everything’s heard and that’s not fair to the patient.”

In conclusion, the physician’s assistant said Miller has been with WCH since 1990 and he and his staff deserve a pleasant and comfortable work environment.

Kim Arrick, RN, said many of the hospital’s physicians have had their offices renovated, such as Charles J. DeNunzio Jr., D.O., and C.J. Myers, D.O., while other physicians have very nice offices. “I’ve been there 14 years and we’ve had one coat of paint,” she said.

“The patients are like, ‘This is a dump.’ What do you say back to them?” asked Arrick. The board asked if the office is dirty. The office staff said the space is clean, but the carpet is irreparably stained and the cabinets are made of particle board and are marred. One patient reportedly even asked if a dog had been in the office and scratched the cabinets.

Board Treasurer Brenda Botizan said she doesn’t remember Miller asking for help until the matter of building a new office came up. “Now we’ve been made aware of it,” she said.

Board President Bill Grimm said WCH Chief Executive Officer George Couch has been looking at alternatives for Miller’s office. “We’re trying to find something that is fiscally responsible for us to do,” he stressed, noting they have looked at some options, but none have been the right fit.

Couch reported that the hospital would like to have all of its physicians in one building. In September he received an estimate from an architect that a building with four to six offices would cost approximately $2 million, plus $160,000-180,000 for architectural fees. He was meeting with the United States Department of Agriculture this week to find out about its Community Programs. Community Programs administers programs designed to develop essential community facilities, including hospitals, for public use in rural areas.

He has also spoken with Larry Lemon, local representative for Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), seeking financial assistance for the project.

“I can tell you it’s on the forefront of my plans to get something done,” said Couch.

“I know it’s not adequate and we need to do something in the very near future. It’s an embarrassment to us if it’s an embarrassment to you.”

In other matters before the board, Chief Financial Officer John May reported that the hospital enjoyed a consolidated net gain of $53,000 for January. “It was pretty much an average month,” he said. It marks the eighth month of profit in the last 12 months; WCH ended 2008 in the black and has shown a profit of almost $163,000 for the last six months.

On Feb. 19 the hospital closed on their new $6 million bond issue to underwrite a large upgrade to the hospital as well as pay off debt from bonds issued in 2003. May said some expenses related to that will show up in February’s figures.

Board Member Don Shenefiel commended Couch, May, and all involved WCH employees who worked on the bond issue. “I commend them for a fantastic job,” he said.

Arlene Summers, director of inpatient services, reported that a mock Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organization (JCAHO) evaluation was conducted recently. JCAHO reviews are currently unannounced events that may occur at any time when it has been 18 months since the last review. WCH has not had a review in at least 18 months, so the facility and staff are trying to be prepared for the surprise evaluation.

“Actually, it went very well,” said Summers. “He gave us some very good suggestions.” She said some simple changes need to be made to be in compliance and they were items hospital employees have not, and probably would not, have noticed.

She was also pleased that all nurses could speak very competently about national patient safety goals during the evaluation.

Jeffrey J. Pilney, M.D., told the board he is the chief of staff for another year. While he had nothing to report, the board approved changes in the recommendation of compensation for medical officers that includes compensation for continuing education.

Also, attendance of local meetings is required.