The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly approved Bartlett Regional Hospital’s management agreement with Quorum Health Resources on Monday night in a 7-1 vote.
Assembly Member Randy Wanamaker opposed the agreement because it changed the employment status of the hospital’s top employees — the chief executive officer and chief financial officer. Instead of being employees of the contractor, they will now be city employees.
“I object from the fact the previous model worked well for this community,” Wanamaker said. “The people that served in those capacities were valued members of this community. ... To understand that model has worked and I see insufficient reason to change.”
Wanamaker’s remarks were in regard to the explanation Bartlett board members Kristen Bomengen and Bob Storer gave to the Assembly.
Bomengen explained the hospital has contracted with Quorum for the past 20 years and the board decided to seek requests for proposals (RFPs) this year. She reviewed the process, which took almost all of 2011, including narrowing down three RFPs to begin contract negotiations with.
“The hospital board will directly hire CEO and CFO instead of Quorum,” Bomengen said. “This represents a significant shift in our management design. Some of the highlights of the contract are that we will continue to engage in the group purchasing organization. That brings a tremendous benefit to the hospital. Then we’ve significantly improved our insurance and dispute resolution terms.”
Bomengen said one reason the board was interested in the employee management change was it was awkward to seek information about hospital operations from employees that technically worked for one of the contractors when the board started seeking information to issue an RFP.
Bomengen also said the move is to better align management with the board’s desires, and at a past hospital board meeting Storer said it was a preemptive move on accountability.
“We can really assure our community will have the best control of our own hospital if we’re able to directly hire and hold our CEO and CFO accountable to our community,” Bomengen said.
Assembly Member Jesse Kiehl asked what the hospital had in place for management transition. Bomengen said the current contract expires Jan. 31, meaning CEO Shawn Morrow and CFO Garth Hamblin will no longer be serving Bartlett Regional Hospital.
“We received already a few proposals from executive search teams for permanent replacements,” Bomengen said. “Our first step is to place individuals in the interim positions. We have identified a number of (interim) candidates that have very good potential. We expect to complete that process this week.”
In other business, the Assembly unanimously approved a bond sale and refunding for Wildflower Court. The ordinance allows for the sale of the bond not to exceed $14.2 million. The bonds were issued in 1999 for the 2001 construction of the new nursing home facility. The amount refunded will be $13.05 million, with a net savings estimated at $4.2 million.
Wildflower Court plans to spend $1 million to put in a kitchen facility, carpeting, deferred maintenance improvements and hardware and software upgrades.
Wildflower Court board members Freda Miller and Melanie Millhorn, along with employee Ruth Johnson spoke in favor of the bond refinancing, speaking to the benefits of having a nursing home facility in Juneau, along with the financial stability of the organization and the benefit of the lower interest rate in today’s market.
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• Editor's note: The article has been changed to correct Freda Miller's name.