Month: August 2012

Peace Health to temporarily take over hospital administration

The Borough Assembly voted this week to sign an agreement with Peace Health to temporarily take over the hospital’s administration. The financial terms of the agreement are still under negotiations, but the plan is to have Peace Health run the hospital for three to four months while the Medical Center Board looks for a new full-time CEO. The contract will be between Peace Health and the Borough but will be funded by the Wrangell Medical Center. Borough Manager Tim Rooney said he relied on recommendations from hospital staff and interim CEO Olinda White when choosing Peace Health, the organization...

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Front Street project should be done by Sept. 21

It may be a push to get it done, but the Downtown Revitalization Project should be completed on schedule by September 21. All of the underground utility installations are complete. Project Engineer Eric Voorhees said that meant installing 4,500 feet of storm drainage pipe, 60 different manholes and inlets, and just under a mile of curb and gutter to go above it all. The concrete work is complete all the way to Episcopal Street other than the intersections, but those will be worked on soon. “The St. Michael intersection has been a little atypical for a while now, which I’m sure everyone’s noticed. Hopefully by early next week Episcopal will be opened up on the new concrete, and then we’ll shut St. Michael, pour the concrete, then open everything up on the new concrete, and we won’t have the funny configuration that we do now,” Voorhees explained. Construction Superintendent Mike Ashton said the primary thing that may delay completion of the project is the conflict between the marine service center paving and the Front Street paving. Public Works Director Carl Johnson explained, “What’s going on by the marine yard is we have two projects, the Marine Service Center paving job and the Front Street job that both meet at entrance to the boat yard. So currently the Marine Service Center is trying to pave their portion to the marine...

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New WMC Board holds first meeting

The Wrangell Medical Center Board came together for their first meeting Wednesday evening to elect officers and come up with a plan. Woody Wilson defeated Bernie Massin 4-3 for the presidential post. Massin is now the vice president of the board. Terri Henson will be the secretary and Cori Robinson will serve as treasurer, though those two posts are somewhat symbolic and much of the work is done by the hospital staff.  The group also held a long discussion on their upcoming meeting plans and where the meetings should be held. Ultimately it was decided that they would continue to meet in the hospital conference room, unless it is regularly too crowded. Then they will discuss moving the meetings. On September 5 the new board will meet for a workshop focused on learning about the board’s roles, policies, and procedures. They will come together again on September 10 for an executive session with the borough attorney to discuss legal matters surrounding the hospital. Two days later they will convene again for a special meeting with the hospital’s risk management trainer. The regular meetings will take place every third Wednesday at 5:30 pm at the hospital. The next regular meeting will be September 19. All of the meetings are open to the public except the executive session. The new board president stressed the need for the board to remain open...

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Selle-Rae responds to Borough lawsuit

Former Wrangell Medical Center CEO Noel Selle-Rae filed his response to the civil suit put against him by the Borough of Wrangell earlier this month. In his response he denies that the Borough is owed any of the more than $520,000 paid to him by the now recalled WMC Board and says that the hospital must pay the second half of the severance package next year. He also asks that the Borough cover his legal fees from fighting the suit. Additionally, the response pins the blame for any wrongful conduct, if it did occur, on “others” and not on Selle-Rae. In his legal response, Selle-Rae denies that he breached his contract by not signing a Release of Claims and a Covenant Not to Sue. The Borough argued that the contract required that he sign the release before being given his severance pay. Selle-Rae’s response says that the Release of Claims was not attached to the contract he received, and therefore he was under no legal obligation to sign it. He also denies that the contract included a clause which said he would be paid 60 days after termination. He claims that the contract and all of its amendments were completely legal, and the Wrangell municipal code does not give the Borough any authority over his contract. The response also states that Selle-Rae is a resident of Anchorage, not of...

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Assembly members view the new ordinance that curtails WMC Board powers as a starting point

The Borough Assembly unanimously passed an ordinance Tuesday night that overhauls and curtails the Wrangell Medical Center Board powers. The new ordinance requires the medical center board to get approval from the Borough Assembly for any contracts worth more than $25,000 for repairs to the facility, for new construction, or for consultancy contracts.  Any grants or funds solicited by the board must now be approved by the borough manager as well. Additionally, all contracts with a hospital administrator must be approved by the borough manager and the borough attorney. Community members spoke at length about the new ordinance during the public hearing, many pointing out what they see as serious flaws. Alice Rooney is concerned that the borough assembly now has the power to change the fees and rates of the hospital, which could impact Medicare or Medicaid payments. “But I’m really concerned because Medicare and Medicaid funds provide the bulk of revenue for the hospital and it makes me very nervous to think of the borough assembly [having control]… You all are very smart people, but two or three years down the road we may have some people up here who are not quite so smart and might decide to work on the rates that are set by the board and might run afoul of Medicare and Medicaid regulations that are not specifically spoken to in the way...

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