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Palo Verde Valley Blythe/Quartzsite Times | Blythe, California and Quartzsite, Arizona

home : latest news : regional November 24, 2015

2/22/2013 12:13:00 PM
Hospital board dismisses interim-CEO and Chief Nursing Officer
Cease and Desist letter from Caltrans shuts down helicopter landings at hospital and emergency room manager resigns.

Marty Bachman

BLYTHE - The Palo Verde Healthcare District Board voted 3-2 to not renew the contracts of Finance Director Dennis Rutherford and Chief Nursing Officer Tara Barth at their board meeting Tuesday night. Board President Trina Sartin was joined by board members Sam Burton and Sandy Hudson in voting for the change while board members Quitty Pinon and Catalina McClain voted against the dismissals.

Rutherford was serving as the interim CEO in place of former CEO Peter Klune, who was fired in January. Rutherford's contract was due to end on Feb. 28 but he and Barth were escorted from the building by Sartin Wednesday, prior to his end date.

Rutherford said he would seek to collect six months pay, approximately $130,000, which was guaranteed in his contract should he be dismissed early.

"I'm not taking this lying down," he said.

Rutherford took over as interim CEO after Klune was fired on Jan. 22, two days after he proposed to the board basing a helicopter outside the hospital.

Hospital officials received letter from Caltrans on Wednesday banning the hospital from landing helicopters at the facility until the helipad came into compliance with state regulations.

It was unclear where helicopters would land to pick up trauma and critical care patients though the Blythe Airport, which is under the management of Sartin's domestic and business partner, Jeff Gatchell, has been mentioned.

Also on Wednesday emergency room manager Mike Murphy resigned. Murphy wrote the hospital's EMTALA transfer policy, which put the decision of emergency transports in the hands of emergency room doctors at the hospital according to federal law.

A document published by a former Riverside District Attorney stated that prior to the implementation of policy, the hospital's chief of staff, Dr. Hossain Sahlolbei, had been promoting Sartin's Desert Air Ambulance service, asking hospital physicians to sign cards stating they wanted Desert Air to transport their patients, despite delays it caused to the transport of emergency patients.

Murphy said he was not political but only cared about patient safety.

"I have no profit margin to look at," he said.

Murphy, who worked 13 years as a traveling nurse at numerous hospitals, said he knew he was next in line to be fired and chose to resign rather than have that on his otherwise clean record.

"I've never worked in a place like this," he said.

Murphy said that Klune had a plan to provide an exclusive contract to a helicopter company and that at least two of them had offered to build a state of the art helipad had they won the contract.

Sartin and Healthcare District Board members Burton and Hudson voted to put an end to that search. Sartin, Burton and Hudson have also refused to vote to pay hospital attorneys hired to oversee the hospital's fraud suit against Sahlolbei. The attorney has petitioned the court to be removed as the hospital's attorney and the fraud suit is expected to be dropped.

Related Stories:
• Former hospital officials trial against hospital district, members began April 21
• Former hospital officials trial against hospital district, members begins Tuesday
• Desert Air official fought to halt emergency helicopters from landing at hospital
• TIMES EDITORIAL: Conflicts at Palo Verde Hospital will soon cost someone their life
• Emergency transport helicopters to be banned from landing at hospital
• TIMES EDITORIAL: District Attorney Paul Zellberbach owes Blythe more than an apology
• TIMES EDITORIAL: At Palo Verde Hospital: Another one bites the dust
• Healthcare District Board votes 3-2 to fire CEO Peter Klune
• Fired hospital chief had proposed basing helicopter at hospital prior to dismissal

Related Links:
• Former DA warns board members of potential conflicts
• Hospital receives 'F' grade from patient safety advocacy group
• Medical staff seeks to restrain Healthcare District Board from contracting out surgical services

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Article comment by: TO @ what gonna happen

DUH - if u have to go to the airport - why can't you be flown out on a plane as opposed to trina and jeff's helicopter??? Oh yea - trina and jeff and dr and sandy et al won't get their (deleted) share huh. Many patients have been flown out of Blythe on an airplane for many years - we are not tied to Desert Air like the owners would like us to believe.

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Posted: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Article comment by: TO @ whats gonna happen

No we are not stupid. We understand now that our Board Member Trina will now get a cut out of every Helicopter flight by transporting them to the Airport!!
No need as the 30 year plus heliport at the hospital is safe and would not be an issue if it weren't for Trina's partner Mr. Gatchell.

Posted: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Article comment by: @ whats gonna happen

Then he will be flown out by helicopter just like they have done for years. The helicopter can still fly patients out just not from the hospital till the issue with the helipad is resolved. You do know that helicopters can also land at an airport, don't you? More of the same baloney scare tactics that people are trying to push on this community. Really people we are not that stupid so please quit insulting us

Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Article comment by: Whats gonna happen

Whats gonna happen when some fat clod buster trips over his own two feet, bumps his noodle and needs to be flown out ASAP and Trina darlins little oh plane is ,unavalible, broken, out of town, not feeling like it or what ever,and then said clod buster must now be transported to a "safe landing zone" for the helicopter ( which on short flights to Palm Springs are faster the fix wing airport to airport to hospital) delaying transport to a hospital that has a real surgon who might actually fix his noddle.

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Article comment by: @@Alejandra Guzman

You just don't get it, do you? When will you understand that, sadly, in a "politically correct" world, people who have a job, would like to keep it. It is impossible for anybody to get "facts" like we would all like to have, when they are AFRAID to say what is really happening. Even to giving false names they can't report anything to the police, as there is some question as to the integrity there, even. Look at all the CEO's, etc. who have been fired because they refused to "cooperate" with the "highest standards" of (deleted) and the (deleted) board! If the higher-ups can be fired for having a different opinion, what chances does a minimum wage person have? They HAVE to have that (deleted) job, or they starve! Think about it, and that, contrary to what you will hear in their magnanimous newsletters to the community from "anonymous" (deleted). This affects more than just the big-wigs in town.

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Article comment by: Clarification For you.

Site Administrator's note: A portion of this comment has been removed because it violated our Terms of use Agreement. Personal attacks are not tolerated, and are a direct violation of these Terms of Use.

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Article comment by: Crazy Town

I know from first hand experience that Dr. S doesn't schedule surgeries or procedures as a way to manipulate this hospital. My husband needed a minor procedure done. This is done in many Dr.'s offices and could have been done in his. He insisted that we travel to Palm Springs and have it done at a Surgery Center (deleted) Unbeknownst to us, he was battling several at the hospital at the time. We never questioned him, why would we? Growing up in Blythe, I always had the best Dr.'s, it's a shock for some of us to experience such greed and power grabbing. He also told us that our insurance shouldn't differ by more than a couple hundred for the change in where it was performed. It was a $2000 dollar difference. Of course we found this out AFTER the surgery. DUPED This man is not for the best interest of our town. This happened 8 yrs ago, right around the time he got control through MEC. I wish the powers that be had realized what he was doing, but sadly it was too late by the time they realized it. He has a hold on this town and who knows what it will take to break it?!?!

I have been researching small business ideas and the first thing it says to do is identify a need in your community. I think a business giving rides to PS would be very profitable in this town.

Site Administrator's note: A portion of this comment has been removed because it violated our Terms of use Agreement.

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Article comment by: @ alejandra Guzman

Please clarify what " work in a hell like enviroment." means.
We need examples such as poor policies, bullying, disruptive behavior, hours and by whom.

Posted: Saturday, February 23, 2013
Article comment by: alejandra Guzman

This hospital is in Desperate need of the State coming in and checking in on its employees. Too much attention is towards ceo's and admin staff who make the big bucks. What about the hard working employees who scrub the floors, work weekends and holidays for minimum wage. It needs to b brought to the states attention to check up on the housekeeping staff. They are being treated poorly, being disrespected and harrassed to stay quiet and complain in fear they will be terminated by their supervisor. This has made this staff work in a hell like enviroment. Someone has to speak up for them and an investigation needs to happen. No one deserves to be treated in such a degrating way in the workplace. Please someone help this hardworking staff.

Posted: Saturday, February 23, 2013
Article comment by: Its your move Doctors

You said in your letter that you would take a 20% cut in On-call pay if Administration did.
Well they took a 100% cut so its your turn!

Posted: Saturday, February 23, 2013
Article comment by: Did you read the plead last November?

We need your support and utilization ask your doctor to refer you to our hospital for services currently offered instead of going out of town. We want to take care of you!
Advocate for bringing a diversity of medical services and doctors!
Attend Monthly Meetings to keep up with our action plans and share your voice!
Engage with Board Members in offering your view points and needs!
Talk to your legislature get them familiar with your Community Hospital!
Keep in touch with your hospital by logging into the

Posted: Saturday, February 23, 2013
Article comment by: Aj McKay

Lol. Hmmm..... Im a top soldier now? I have to add that to my PVVT resume of suspected city manager, councilman, hospital board member, good ol boys club, and too many others to list. Only those who are on PVVT fan bus, which is their choice, get defensive when people want facts from both sides. They only write why they think things transpire. They will never get documents or statements to publish that prove their articles information were not completely accurate or reliable. Makes sense. Why would they discredit themselves? Just tell it like it is. After the elections it became personal, people got angry, and the articles regarding the hospital became a way to strike back. Doesnt matter much to me what is written but the community is entitled to accurate information from both sides at the least.

Posted: Saturday, February 23, 2013
Article comment by: @@crazy town

(Deleted) "complimented" Mr. Rutherford?? HA! How nice of this generous, loving (deleted). Don't you recognize phony (deleted) when you hear it, see it, or step in it? Simply a ruse to make it look like the good (deleted) has a human side and is not the driven (deleted) that reality shows him to be. That's also why he magnanimously buys fair animals, you know.

Posted: Saturday, February 23, 2013
Article comment by: T0 @ crazy town

If you had read the last letter the doctors sent out then the question is what had they done to decrease revenues!!!!

Posted: Saturday, February 23, 2013
Article comment by: @ crazy town

From what I have been told and seen at meetings is that the cfo and cno were making $250k and $180k a year. (deleted)The consulting group just hired told everyone at the last meeting that the average CEO for a hospital our size should make $250k a year, $300k tops. This should tell you then that we have been overpaying our administrators. Dr Sahlobei even gave praise to Mr. Rutherford for the work he had done and said that personally he had never had a problem with him. Unfortunately for the cfo and cno money does matter right now since the hospital is not flourishing. Many of you will say that is the fault of the docs but tell me what the last group including the board had done to increase revenues at the hospital. Even dr p has stood up at meetings and said that he gave the administrators ideas to increase revenues, was told they would look into it, and heard nothing back from them. Then people wonder why the docs get mad and frustrated. There is a lot more to this story than what the public is given by the pvvt.

Site Administrator's note: A portion of this comment has been removed because it violated our Terms of use Agreement.

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