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By Dan Rudy 

Medical board seeking reshuffle


Wrangell Medical Center’s board of directors will be seeking some organizational changes.

At its March 16 meeting the board moved to recommend that the Borough Assembly reduce its size from nine members to seven when terms end in October.

Hospital head Robert Rang noted the board’s size was traditionally seven, and pointed out there have been challenges finding a quorum for meetings. The board has also had difficulty in filling out its positions, with an unexpired term currently open for appointment.

Board treasurer Barb Conine opined it did not make sense to have a board larger than the Assembly, which has seven members.

Board member Woody Wilson agreed, and pointed to a wider problem with city boards and commissions finding volunteers to serve. In addition to the hospital board there are currently vacancies on Planning and Zoning, Economic Development, and the Nolan Museum/Civic Center bodies.

“The city needs to look at all their boards and commissions, and maybe...” he began.

“Resize them,” Conine finished.

The recommendation will go to the Assembly for consideration. If it chooses to take up the matter, city staff will draft an ordinance change, which would then be subject to at least two readings with a public hearing before implementation. The transition would not be effective immediately, but would take place after the next election in October. In addition to the vacancy, four board seats are set to expire this year.

During last week’s meeting Conine also pointed out the Assembly was in the process of changing its bylaws to allow members to vote by phone. She recommended the hospital board looking into doing likewise.

Calling in to meetings on a regular basis, Wilson in particular was supportive of such a change. “This is 2016. We use our cell phones for a lot of things,” he said.

Assembly member and hospital board liaison Becky Rooney pointed out the change they were adopting would only allow telephonic participation to vote on regular business items. However, members calling in would still not count toward quorum and could not participate in executive sessions, for the benefit of public perception and for safety considerations, respectively.

WMC board members were undecided on whether to follow suit or else allow full participation by phone, but may take up a bylaw revision of its own in the near future.

“We just need to update ourselves,” Conine commented.

On hospital operations, financial officer Doran Hammett reported February had been better than budgeted by five percent for WMC, and that cash reserves were higher than they had been the previous year. In July the hospital had around $500,000 in reserve, or about 21 days’ coverage for operations. That figure had breached the million-dollar mark in October, and has since settled around to $867,000 by last week’s meeting, or 32 days.

Nearing the end of his first year with the hospital, Hammett’s contract has been reviewed and revised. Hammett is also the CFO at Petersburg Medical Center and splits time between the two facilities. Attributed to the work of MaryJo Pullman in Wrangell’s office, it was determined the amount of time he needs to physically be present can be reduced from two weeks each month to one.

In his monthly report, Rang informed board members the hospital’s laboratory has been busy with its annual Health Fair blood drive, which wraps up tomorrow. The Hospital Auxiliary will help pay for a new fetal heart monitor capable of viewing twins, and the medical center will be replacing its outdated crib.


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