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GV Hospital District Under Fire for Lack of Transparency

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The communities of Garden Valley, Lowman and Banks are within the Garden Valley Hospital Taxing District. [In 1985, the petition to form a Hospital District was voted on in 1985 and taxpayers approved the creation of the Garden Valley Hospital Taxing District. Many people in our area do not realize there is a line item on their property tax statement for a Hospital District.

The Garden Valley Hospital Taxing District held their regular meeting on January 23rd, 2018. They meet every 4th Tuesday of the month at 4:30 p.m.  The public is always invited to these meetings, but people were even more interested after statements from Dr. Mike Koenig and the GVHTD were published. Communities within the Hospital District were becoming concerned when Dr. Michael Koenig of Garden Valley Family Medicine made it known that he was returning to regular private practice and not renewing his contract with the GVHTD after a budget shortfall of $5,000.

Questions: People wanted to know what may have caused Dr. Mike to not renew the contract with GVHTD. The GVHTD Board that provides supplemental funding so that Garden Valley Family Medicine could provide a sliding fee scale, home health service, emergency transport assistance and other amenities that assist the local community. Members of the public voiced their concerns particularly for low-income families and seniors that may be impacted adversely by the non-renewal of the contract with Dr. Mike Koenig. Those impacted will be force) to travel to Boise for their healthcare.

Budget Reduction: Billie DaVolt, Vice-Chair, explained that the (Hospital District) Budget was reduced across the board. DaVolt said that a reduction of funding received plus they had less carry over this year than they had in the past. She stated, “The budget was publicly published in the Idaho World along with advertising the budget hearing. There is still $108,000 budgeted for medical services. It just went from $114,000 to $108,000.”  She explained, “Dr. Mike simply did not renew his contract.” Board member Helen Beckwith said, “He told us ‘thank you but no thank you’. There was no negotiating.”

Visitors Speak: Guests were asking that the Board continue supplementing Dr. Mike with their budget. One audience member stated, “Not putting the clinic’s needs first is like a kicking the doctor down the street” It was discussed many people have a long-standing relationship with the doctor. Concerns were voiced for senior citizens that may need home health care services. Others in attendance had concerns about the elimination of the sliding-fee scale and expressed concerns for families that will not be able to afford future care through Garden Valley Family Medicine.

Pharmacy Startup Funding: Questions of were asked about why the GV Family Medicine’s contracted budget was less this year but a “one-time” startup fund was made for the Medi-Cap Pharmacy this year. This new pharmacy is operational and located within the Garden Valley Market. The Hospital District approved start-up funding in the amount of $20,000 to purchase computers and associated technical links for the Telepharmacy model Medi-Cap has implemented. Concerns were voiced regarding the support of computer infrastructure for the Medi-Cap Pharmacy and can those expenditures can legitimately be deemed a ‘medical service’ for the community. Others brought up the fact that the Medi-Cap Pharmacy is a chain operation and should not have requested taxpayer dollars for equipment.

DaVolt explained budget items: She said that there was $177,082.00 to work with and a carryover of $20,000 from last year.

Audit Review: $3000 yearly.

Community Health: For the past two years the GV Hospital District has spent $30,000 for advanced life support and some programs with the Garden Valley Fire Department.  The Hospital District did not include assistance with nitrous oxide canisters in this year’s budget. Included is AED (Automated External Defibrillator) maintenance for 10 AEDs that require yearly inspection: $1600.

Equipment, Supplies and Contingencies: $19,532 (approximately 12% of the GV Hospital Taxing District Budget) is placed into a contingency fund to cover emergencies and contingencies such as snow plowing and building maintenance and repair. The Outreach Center Building required repairs on back deck last year as well as replacement of windows which was completed in 2017. Contingency funds cover a water pump that dies or a septic system collapse.

Food Bank:  No budget available this year; Insurance: $1800 budgeted; Office Supplies: $500; Medical Services: $108,000;   Outreach Center (OC) Program: $30, 000; Property Tax: $150.00; Maintenance: $5000 (part of contingency budget); School Athletics Department: No budget for 2018; School Nurse: $6,400 and that includes the $500 for supplies and includes the $500 training in the summer. The GV School Nurse receives $540 per month; Utilities: $0 paid through the Outreach Center; Travel expenses:  $1100 because as a board they can take paid travel to and from meetings or other travel related for board activities. Some prefer to deduct travel expenses from their taxes that off their taxes, which is acceptable for any Taxing District Board to do this

Outreach Center Budget: The Outreach Center is a place for Garden Valley youth to gather twice a week for dinners, movies, study hall, and socializing. with occasional guest speakers on a variety of topics. A public records request was made to see how the $30K/year budget is being used.  There are no records kept with the Hospital District as Angie Waters, OC Supervising Property Manager, spends the money out of her own personal account. She is responsible for utilities and Wi-Fi and the dentist’s building. Repairs and maintenance comes out of the Hospital District budgets. Waters says she “does not take a salary since she pays for other things for the kids” such as food and movies. Taxpayers pay that budget of $2500/month for 8 evenings a month.

Medi-Cap Pharmacy does not appear in GV Hospital Taxing District Budget: When asked where the budget shows a Pharmacy, DaVolt explained that it is part of the Community Health line item. Many were concerned about the pharmacy not appearing as a line-item. The question was asked: How was the public to know about that money being spent regarding the Medi-Cap pharmacy? Fire Chief Jon Delvalle was present; he noted that, as a taxing district, every item needs to be referenced specifically and expenditure for the pharmacy start up “did not pass the smell test.”

The Garden Valley Hospital Taxing District Treasurers Report:  A surplus remains in the District’s account after paying bills. Audience members requested the board consider offering this surplus to Dr. Mike and see if he would reconsider the contract and potentially have things move forward.  The board made a motion to give authority to DaVolt to approach Dr. Michael Koenig with this offer. The motion was approved.

 

Proposals: Now the board is taking proposals to find a way to fill the gap and make sure medical services are provided to the community. They have received one from the nurse at Garden Valley School with a proposed increase in her hours at the school from 2 hours to 6 hours per day. Another proposal is from Dr. Koenig stating that the clinic should receive 100% of funds to supplement the clinic. This is an all-or-none proposal.

Filling the gap: They are considering other ways to have medical services such as a free mobile clinic or have a doctor who would come periodically. GVHTD is looking for ideas or proposals from the community to provide community medical services.  Ruth Richter said, for the senior citizens she was representing, “That is not good enough” and she called for better transparency.  Others in attendance wanted the Board to find a way to renegotiate with Dr. Koenig. They felt he was more important than the other services the GVHTD is supporting.

Now it is time for the community to talk a hard look at what they think a Hospital District should be or take the option that the District could be dissolved. Unless there are changes, then GV Family Medicine is operating as a private practice with no subsidized or discounted services. The community needs to be involved by attending meetings and/or contacting the GVHTD Board Members. Board members are Greg Simione, Jan Ward, Helen Beckwith, and Brandon Knuteson who represent Garden Valley area. Lowman board representatives are Beth Armour and Stephen Sylvester.

Written by Janet Juroch

 

 

 

 

 

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