Last hospital district board meeting of the year covers old business and new

The last San Juan County Public Hospital District Board meeting of the year looked back on issues from 2015, and forward to opportunities of 2016, with an update on the Civil Investigative Demand from the Attorney General’s office and welcoming two new commissioners including the new EMS Chief Jerry Martin.

Larry Wall, director of critical care transport, told the board that there have been 316 flights this year, and he expects it to be more than320 by the end of the year. He also noted that eight flights used the de-icing system, and praised its use for helping to get patients off island as quickly as possible during a medical emergency.

Fraud investigation continues

The Civil Investigative Demand was originally filed Sept. 25 by the attorney general’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, asking for billing documents, reimbursement claims, forms, as well as all communication between “Larry Wall, Jim Cole, Dr. Michael Edwards or Dr. MichaelSullivan, or the superintendent on Board of the San Juan Island Public Hospital District No. 1 regarding Medicaid billing, Medicaid reimbursement or air ambulance service.”

It also specifically asks for the “entire personnel files for former EMS Chief Jim Cole, Director of Critical Care Transport Larry Wall, Dr. J.Michael Edwards and Agency Medical Director Dr. Michael Sullivan.” Larry Wall, director of critical care transport, told the board that there are no significant updates in the process, and said that the office has received documents in a timely manner.

Commissioner Barbara Sharp asked for a time line on when the document hand-over might be complete.

“That’s a great question, I asked that as well. Unfortunately we don’t,” Wall said. “Once they’ve gotten all their documents, there is a lot to process. Not only patient records but policy and procedures, attachments, billing forms, and I think it will take them a while to go through it all.”

The CID originally requested all the documentation by Oct. 30, giving EMS less than a month to comply. The amount of documents made that a difficult directive.

“Number one, there is the possibility of the amount of information to be truncated by the AG’s office,” chairman Michael J. Edwards said.“And number two they have consented to a rolling time line. The original demand of responding in 30 days, the AG’s office has realized that’s just not realistic and has consented in letting us roll it out.”

Changing in the ranks

This was the last meeting for commissioners Lenore Bayuk and Rosanna O’Donnell, who received flowers and plaques for their service to the board.

“This is a very emotional time,” Edwards said of Bayuk and O’Donnell’s departures. He commended them both for their steadfast support of the board and EMS, and noted Bayuk’s 12 year service, with includes eight and a half years as chairperson of the board.

He said Bayuk was the longest serving member, just two weeks longer than board member Mike Taylor, who left his position #2 this month.

It was also the last time that Cady Davies and Pam Hutchins presented for EMS in place of the EMS chief. New chief Jerry Martin will begin his position in January. Edwards praised Davies and Hutchins for stepping up when old EMS Chief Jim Cole left, calling it “nothing short of herculean effort,” and thanking them for their time and effort to EMS.

The next public hospital meeting will take place Jan. 27 at 5 p.m. at the Legislative Hearing Room.

An agenda has not yet been released for the meeting, but the latest meeting tabled a discussion on the PeaceHealth subsidy agreement to be reopened at the Jan. 27 meeting.