Clarifying opinions about past hospital issue


I am writing to address and clarify some information in an article in the Friday, February 15, 2019 Journal article titled “Eight candidates file to run in April 2 city council election” which not only listed the candidates and their offices, but appeared to give an opinion that as mayor, even though I did personally think a management company was the best fit at that time, I controlled the hospital board and my opinion was imposed on the board.  

The article seemed to assume the city was supposed to manage the hospital when in fact there was a seven-member board back then which has since been reduced to five, which had and has that authority.  By statute the hospital board has the authority to make decisions for the success and viability of the hospital, which only makes sense because these members are closely involved and knowledgeable about the status and needs of the hospital, not the mayor or a council members.

When the prior administration was looking toward retirement and seemingly not troubled by the hospital losing money and there was no desire to look for new revenue streams or cut staff because expenses had been already cut as much as possible, the hospital board felt the leadership needed to be evaluated and a new direction considered.   

Rather than hire a new administrator right away, the hospital board at that time interviewed management companies that would guide the management of the hospital and give advice and oversight by helping the board find a new CEO, find physicians through its contacts, as well as help the hospital generate new revenue streams with ideas the company had used successfully with other hospitals that they managed.  They would have also worked with the current staff to enhance services already in place to keep the hospital viable for our community.   It would not have been a good business practice to take on the management of a failing hospital if they did not think they could make it generate enough revenue to continue pay their management fee.

Back then there were some community members as well as council members who thought the hospital should align and be sold to a larger system.  It was thought that the larger system would put money into our local hospital to keep it afloat.  

My personal opinion was that a larger system who would purchase the hospital would close the inpatient part of the hospital-which took care of patients admitted overnight and keep the outpatient services for a time which performs tests and minor procedures.  

The real value to a larger system would be the patients that the doctors see in the clinic because they could eventually be funneled to the “mother” hospital if there was a need for the clinic to close.  Also, the clinic was valuable because blood work, tests and procedures could be done at the larger hospital.  Currently, a lot of our local residents travel to larger hospitals for those services already.   If we had aligned or sold to a hospital system in either direction, I believe by this time, we might be fortunate to have the clinic still open.  In researching other small hospitals back then, those that were aligned or sold to larger systems, were usually closed within a year or two even if there was a promise to the then boards to keep them open. 

The hospital board back in 2014-15 hired three interim managers before Paul Skowron was hired.  During the time these interims were at the hospital, they each reviewed and evaluated departments, trying to make them leaner and more efficient as well as found an area that needed to be in compliance with government regulations that had not been in the past.  Paul Skowron was the last interim hired by the hospital board prior to the City Council changes.  

With his background in finance he was a perfect fit for the hospital to continue what the prior interims had accomplished.  The current hospital board made the right decision in giving Paul Skowron a contract to stay on these past four years.  He has shown he has cared about the success and viability of the hospital and has been willing to do what was necessary to move the hospital forward.  He guided the implementing of new services and outpatient doctors and for the convenience of the citizens of Clinton extended clinic hours and added the walk-in clinic   

He has also been wise in guiding the board with requests for upgrading equipment which seems to get outdated almost after it is purchased, for enhancing the look of the building with upgrades and bringing additional doctors on staff, among other things.

I am aware of the progress of the hospital because I continue to care about the success of the hospital and have continued to attend the monthly hospital board meetings.  I have also attended the city council meetings unless I was out of town.   

Even though I was not born in this community, our three daughters were raised here, and most of my adult life has been spent in Clinton. 

Sincerely,

Carolyn A. Peters

Clinton

Editor’s Note:

Below is the passage from the story referenced in the above letter.  It contains no inference connecting Peters with hospital board activity.  It also does not contain any suggestion that the city directly manages the hospital, although it does own the hospital and appoint hospital board members.  

Peters’ letter was published here in its entirety except for a concluding portion, which violated the Journal’s policy against candidates endorsing themselves in letters submitted for publication.  That policy can be found at the bottom of this page.

“While Peters served as mayor, she and Edmunds were on opposite sides of the issue concerning management of Warner Hopsital.  Peters favored a plan that enlisted a management company to take charge of the city-owned health care facility.

Edmunds favored maintaining city-controlled management of the hospital.  

In April 2015, the then city council voted to omit a payment from the city budget that would have initiated a contract with Alliant, a hospital management firm.  

Several commissioners were dissatified with how the then hospital board handled the issue.” 

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