As an outcome of last fall's mediation between the BIRHC and
the CCG, the CCG agreed to give the BIRHC board an opportunity
to make positive changes without being under constant criticism.
Criticism has been held and some improvement has been made. However,
there continues to be areas of concern that warrant comment.
1) After retaining a $160,000 consultant as a transition manager,
the board redirected her to develop billing procedures. At the
end of her contract, the board decided to outsource billing. That
decision should have been made early on. The board has now extended
her employment. The extra funds could have been spent on other
needed equipment or services.
2) Another responsibility of the consultant was to obtain grants.
There have been none. A donation of $25,000 was obtained from
the Chippewa and Ottawa Band of Native Americans, and $15,000
of State funds. Neither required a grant application, but were
obtained by requesting them. Any board member could have done
this. Both the school and the EMS received similar contributions
without having to hire a high priced consultant.
3) After putting the Island's dentist through a year of contract
negotiations, a new optometrist was retained without board approval;
the board didn't even have knowledge of it happening. This raises
two issues. One, the question of fair and equitable treatment
of the dentist. Two, continued violation of the Michigan Open
Meetings Act and the public's trust. It should be noted that when
challenged on this issue, the acting chair of May's board meeting
declared a special meeting would be called to rectify this prior
to the next visit of the optometrist.
4) There is a financial concern for the Health Center's future;
large personal donations will be critical for continued operation.
The board may have to mortgage the new building, which could place
it at high risk. The financial reports given out at the monthly
meeting are difficult to understand. Some board members find the
reports confusing and conflicting. One board member recommended
that some financial reports be generated quarterly. Hopefully
the board has decided no on this matter. A board can not make
good timely decisions from reports they do not understand and
with financial data that is three to four months old.
5) The board recommended no longer holding open monthly meetings
but instead going to every other month to allow it to accomplish
more between meetings. This would further breakdown communication
and direct involvement with a concerned public. In tough times,
the board needs to become more transparent and not conduct its
business out of view. This is the time to be more proactive as
a board and interactive with the public, which it will depend
on for its future financing.
We hope the board will learn from its mistakes in order to improve
its future conduct. Over 30% of the BIRHC budget comes from local
tax dollars. The public expects and deserves better in return
for its support. The CCG welcomes board response; however, time
and energy would be better spent by the board reevaluating some
of the things that continue to minimize public concern and jeopardize
the future of OUR Health Center.
Kirk D. McBride, Chair, CCG
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