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1/22/2013 6:02:00 PM
Fired hospital chief had proposed basing helicopter at hospital prior to dismissal

Marty Bachman


BLYTHE - Two days prior to his dismissal as Palo Verde Hospital CEO, Peter Klune, speaking at the Healthcare District Board's Jan. 16 meeting, called for permanently basing a helicopter at Palo Verde Hospital so that trauma and other emergency room patients could be transferred to other hospitals faster.

The exclusive contract plan Klune proposed would likely cause hardship for Board President Trina Sartin's Desert Air Ambulance service, which currently provides emergency room patients airplane service to out-of-town hospitals. Sartin was one of three votes to fire Klune.

The board had earlier that night tabled the discussion on putting an end to the request for proposals (RFP) for an exclusive contract but it reappeared on the agenda for Tuesday's special board meeting.

Klune said that after the board had approved a transportation policy last November that divided emergency room transports equally between Desert Air and Blythe Ambulance, which provides advanced life support service, he had met resistance from both the hospital's medical staff and providers.

According to a conflict of interest report issued by a former district attorney employed by the previous board's law firm, Best, Best and Krieger, hospital Chief of Staff Dr. Hossain Sahlolbei had urged medical staff members to use Desert Air for transport services.

Klune said the move to change the transportation policy was necessary to put the hospital in compliance with state and federal law.

"Enforcement has been difficult at best," Klune told the board. "I will maintain that our goal in enforcing this policy isn't because I like to fight with any of these aforementioned people, it is to maintain compliance with the law and provide the patient the necessary care in the most in the most timely fashion."

Klune said that because of incidences that continue to occur, and the continued challenge to the present policy by members of the medical staff, the prior board sought to implement an exclusive transportation policy and agreement RFP that was intended to address the conflicts and ensure the patient transfer was conducted in "an appropriate manner." He said that he supported the patients right to choose their preferred mode of transportation except when that conflicts with the physicians prescription.

Klune said it gets confusing when clinicians are concerned enough to want to talk to the patient and make sure they understand what the reality is and what the options are for their particular circumstance.

"If, as it appears, this board intends to dismiss or de-authorize the approval to proceed with this request for proposals of the exclusive transportation policy and agreement, we will still have to address this and come up with another remedy," Klune said. "We are out of compliance with federal law today because of the end runs and the lack of compliance with our policy on the incident reports and we have several of them that are documented on an ongoing basis. I feel it is my obligation to point out to this board that this administration has data that indicates that current transport times for critical patents would be reduced significantly by implementation of such an agreement to base a helicopter at Palo Verde Hospital. This would eliminate any scramble; the hospital would have a hospital-based helicopter. It is pretty much a standard at most hospitals."

Klune said that basing a helicopter at the hospital was in the best interests of the patients in the community that require urgent care.

"In an effort to obtain objective information and bring an end to the debate over this issue, I would request that the board allow administration to proceed with this exclusive transportation policy and agreement or, failing that, cause I'm not confident we can get there, appoint a committee of citizens of the community that will work with the administration and formulate a recommendation to the board at the next meeting," Klune said. "This is something that shouldn't be allowed to drift."

At the end of Klune's report, a woman spoke out that the item had been tabled and questioned why he had made the report in light of those circumstances. Sartin said she would speak to the board's legal counsel, Jeff Scott, about the woman's concerns.

"Move on Peter," Sartin told Klune.

Prior to Klune's report, local resident Danny Robinson said he had been flown out once on a helicopter and his girlfriend, who was driving, met him at Eisenhower in Palm Desert.

"I could have ridden with her and got there just as fast," Robinson told the board.

Genie Webber, another Blythe resident, said she had a heart attack in November and received great care at Palo Verde Hospital.

"The emergency room physicians did a beautiful job," she said. "It was 45 minutes from the time they left the pad here to the time they landed on the roof of the desert hospital. I don't know where all this prejudice comes from but I honestly think if this is a contentious issue then there should be a study. Do your own study and make a choice and stop this nonsense and this infighting. If there's a problem lets fix it. But stop all this ugliness."

Related Stories:
• Hospital board dismisses interim-CEO and Chief Nursing Officer
• Hospital attorneys ask court to dismiss Sahlolbei's federal suit
• Emergency transport helicopters to be banned from landing at hospital
• TIMES EDITORIAL: District Attorney Paul Zellberbach owes Blythe more than an apology
• Medical Staff drops lawsuit against hospital board
• Healthcare District Board votes 3-2 to fire CEO Peter Klune
• Drop in patients and surgeries pushes hospital to financial brink

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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2013
Article comment by: just me@aj

Aj if pvvt would not delete my details I could name several different incidents.And name the patients and thier families how ever it would violate pvvts terms.I have to respect that.But I know and I guess you will alway's have to wonder.

Posted: Saturday, January 26, 2013
Article comment by: Aj McKay

@Just Me: How many times? Yo talking about once, twice, etc. Care to shed light on the details? Things do not just happen because. There are always factors that determine an outcome. I have also sat in the emergency room and heard a patient deny themselves to be flown out. Simply didn't want to. Stubborn I guess.

Posted: Saturday, January 26, 2013
Article comment by: just me@Aj

Your right all patients are not flown out.Instead they are admitted here as at will patients .which means they can expire with or without cause.It has happened I know for a fact.

Posted: Saturday, January 26, 2013
Article comment by: To @ the shaddow knows

What are complaining about Trina has had the exclusive contract from day one. Her conflict of Interest Doctor sees to that.
Pinon is only a part time employee of a National Ambulance Company. Conflict of Interest Trina owns hers!!!!

Posted: Saturday, January 26, 2013
Article comment by: @ the shaddow knows

The same way that Beatrice Pinon did, you know the board member that just happens to work for the company that was going to get the exclusive if the CEO had the chance. What people fail to understand is that the CEO had the authorization to not only get proposals but also was given the authority by the outgoing board to sign into an agreement without any board members consent. No vote or anything!

Posted: Saturday, January 26, 2013
Article comment by: @ AJ


But she isn't signing the orders. Nor is she always taking the calls.

Posted: Saturday, January 26, 2013
Article comment by: Aj McKay

Easy Shadow! Not everyone who is sick is required to get flown out. I don't think that the hospital will fly people out for 8 stitches, the flu or removal of an appendix. Your suggesting that she will somehow get all patients to fly out? LOL!

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: The shaddow knows

I would like to know how is Trina going to keep patients in our hospital when she is in the business to transport them to other hospitals?Conflict??????

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: just me

Let's go back to Burton resigning from the collage board some family medical issue, forced him to resign.The medical issue wasn't so sever that he couldn't continue to serve on his favorite dr.board.Sam you and the other two blind mice have just caused a lot a families to have medical issues.Is it time to resign

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: @ webber

How do you fight daily hand-to-hand combat when you were only here for 3 days a week and had six weeks of vacation? So I guess he fought for, 46 weeks times 3 days a week, 138 days a year. Wow I guess that $3,456.52 A DAY that he was paid wasn't enough in your estimation.

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: Desert Punky

What flippant decissions made! You are CEO-less and the body is still getting $500,000 a year and benefits. Now, how long will it take the residents of Blythe to click onto the lineage of the new CEO to someone associated on the board AND how much more money are they going to pay this person (with kick-backs) than Klune? Also, Sartin should have removed herself from voting on the helicopter issue as she is sure to benefit from the outcome.

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: @Carolyn Dekens

With all due respect, Mrs. Dekens, you and your cohorts wouldn't recognize Truth if it walked up and kicked your butt in broad daylight. You have been boondoggled! LOL

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: @ carolyn dekens

The job is not done yet. I have this funny feeling it is in the making and it is not what you are looking for.

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: Eugenia Webber

It's over. Peter Klune will be okay in fact, he will not be under constant stress and fighting daily hand-to-hand combat to keep the hospital in compliance and implementing improvements. We, the citizens, will continue to live with the constant political and personal agendas that keep the hospital from functioning in a manner that provides the best service possible. The hospital will continue to be subject to whims of a few individuals. It seems that we are afraid of progress anytime anything seems to be going well, we manage to destroy it. I've accepted this mind set there's nothing I can do to change it.

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: carolyn dekens

I suggest anyone really interested in knowing what a CEO of a 15 bed hospital makes should goggle- compensation of a hospital CEO with 50 beds or less. You'll get your answer!

And if you want the truth of what has been done to improve our hospital over the last two years, go the the hospital website and listen to the meeting minutes. But, be prepared to hear nothing progressive.

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