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Beacon Archive

August 2003
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PABI Launches a Revised Plan

PABI Sunset Picnic Update

AMVETS sponsor Lake Geneserath Fishing Tournament in September

Washington Islanders visit Beaver and suggest Exchange Trips

Chamber has Big Plans: 2nd Annual Bite of Beaver Island Expanded Fall Events

Weather or Not

On This Date

Studying Art in an Artist's Paradise

The Freedom Schooner Amistad Pays a Call

Nels Peter Sorensen, Jr.: 1938-2003

Aleta Doris Kenwabikise: 1955-2003

Proposed Downtown / Public Beach Parking Lot

Museum Week 2003

Wildlife Club News

Charlevoix County Commissioners Meeting Report

News From the Townships

A Challenge to the BIRHC Board

The Opposition Organizes

Letters to the Editor Regarding the BIRHC

From the Board: About the Current Controversy

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About the Current Controversy

The board and management of the Health Center have had to make some very difficult staffing and financial decisions during the last year. In all cases, decisions were made carefully, with what we believed were the best interests of the Health Center and the community in mind.

One of the hardest decisions was not to renew the contract of Susan Meis, PA-C upon its expiration on September 30, 2003. The letter informing her of that decision gave her the option of working through the duration of the contract on the condition that she maintain professional behavior. Instead, Susan elected to resign immediately.

Despite her resignation, the Health Center continues to provide the coverage and high quality of health care services that the Beaver Island community expects and deserves. Chris VanLooy, PA-C, continues as our full-time primary care provider. We have the cooperation and staffing assistance of BIEMS personnel. Two other experienced health care professionals well known to the Beaver Island Community, Nurse Practitioner Jo Hendrix and Holly Nielson, PA-C, also will provide services to patients.
We understand the personal relationships many in the community have with Susan because of the capable care she has given. We know it can be difficult to contemplate establishing such a bond with another care provider, and we are sorry that some Health Center patients will have to go through this. But the Board of Directors has the duty to take actions necessary to protect and preserve the long-term best interests of the Health Center as an organization one of the most important on this island and a solid majority of the Board concluded that extending Susan Meis's employment for another two years would be incompatible with those interests.

In addition to assuring continued delivery of high quality health care services, the Health Center has faced major management challenges. The State Department of Community Health (which licenses the Center), the townships and the community at large have all demanded improvement in its overall operations, especially billing procedures.

To meet those demands the Health Center Board retained the services of Arlene Brennan, an experienced health care professional highly recommended by the State and by regional hospitals with which the Health Center is affiliated. Her assignment was to diagnose the problems and, with the Board's approval and support, devise and implement solutions. She was retained as an independent contractor, so the Health Center would not have the expense of benefits for a permanent employee, and all costs for her service were covered by grant funds. Under her leadership a tremendous amount of work has been done.
Arlene and the staff report many accomplishments, some of which are:

  • Assisting with the layout of the new facility the staff will use;

  • Creating accurate and timely invoices that patients can understand;

  • Drafting and implementing fair and comprehensible patient financial policies, which patients are beginning to understand and appreciate;

  • Collecting co-pays at the time of service;

  • Assuring compliance with Federal privacy accountability requirements;

  • Improving collection and management of patient information;

  • Dramatically increasing and accelerating collection of third-party reimbursements and cash payments for patient services;

  • Clarifying job descriptions, roles and responsibilities;

  • Training staff to properly interpret and apply treatment and diagnostic codes for reimbursement;

  • Improved relationships with BIEMS, Peaine and St. James Townships, area hospitals, and the State.

Much remains to be done, but the staff and Board are encouraged by positive feedback about our progress in these areas, and we remain committed to our mission of providing high quality, cost effective patient treatment and wellness services to the whole Beaver Island community.

We are all giving our best efforts and devoting substantial volunteer hours to ensure that the Health Center not only survives, but thrives, and we appreciate the support and understanding the community has provided. We realize that people will disagree with some of our decisions and we care about their concerns. But we hope that personal disagreements with Board actions will not be turned against the Health Center as an organization because without broad and strong community support this vital Beaver Island institution cannot survive. With the loss of state funding, your support is more important than ever.

–Connie Wojan, Don Spencer, Anne Glendon, Pete LoDico, Joe Reed, Rick Speck, Barbara Murphy, and Gerald LaFreniere

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