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home : opinions October 19, 2014

1/24/2013 5:00:00 PM
TIMES EDITORIAL: At Palo Verde Hospital: Another one bites the dust

Congratulations to the Palo Verde Hospital medical staff and their supporters. Due to their relentless efforts, another chief executive officer has been fired. This time it will cost taxpayers nearly $500,000 as former CEO Peter Klune is owed a year's salary and benefits while we pay another CEO the same amount or more.

Since 2007, we've watched this act over and over again, starting with Brehm/Province Health Care, Advance Hospital Management (AHM), John Ferelli, Lee Holter and now, Peter Klune. Even Jim Carney took a turn as the hospital CEO when he was allied with the medical staff before falling out of grace with them.

Again, to the rescue of the medical staff, was Board Member Sandy Hudson, who was instrumental in the departure of AHM four years ago. While the agreement with AHM was a secret, their contract guaranteed them six months pay, approximately $360,000. But it's just taxpayer money coming out of the hospital's already depleted budget, right?

It always begins with the medical staff demanding the board hire someone of their choosing and then, when that group or person falls into disfavor with them, which always happens, there's talk of the hospital facing bankruptcy and demands that they be fired. This time was no different.

Klune, like those prior to him, made the mistake of siding with a board that did not give the medical staff everything they demanded and as a result, chaos ensued, the hospital dominated the town's headlines, and Klune has now been escorted out the same revolving door many Palo Verde Healthcare District board members were made to exit through due to the efforts of the medical staff.

What makes this even more interesting is that the board's president, Trina Sartin, whose Desert Air Ambulance flies a fixed-wing aircraft that carries many patients in need of critical care to hospitals in the nearby Coachella Valley, voted to fire Klune just two days after he proposed to park a helicopter outside the doors of Palo Verde Hospital on a full time basis.

The helicopter, contrary to the more uninformed commenters on our website, would not cost the hospital anything, the same as Sartin's aircraft service does not cost the hospital anything. What it would do though, is get trauma and critical care patients to a hospital equipped to handle such cases much faster by flying directly from hospital to hospital.

Sartin's business, on the other hand, necessitates the loading of patients into an ambulance for the drive to the airport, loading them onto a plane, flying them to another airport, and then loading them into another ambulance for the drive to the hospital.

We know this is good for Board President Trina Sartin's business; what's yet to be proven is how it is good for the citizens of this valley who may find themselves in the unfortunate circumstances of needing a relative or themselves delivered to a trauma center in record time.

Can anyone logically answer why we're being denied that competitive service?

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
• Medical Staff drops lawsuit against hospital board

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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, February 2, 2013
Article comment by: Phantom Nose

The Health Care District Board members, especially The Twins and their Son, ought to all be required to read Mr. Weete's most recent column. They won't read it and even if they did they wouldn't either understand or care.

Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2013
Article comment by: @ @ fearful employee

It all depends on your view of what is"on the right track" means to you.
Money in the Docs and Friends pockets.
Or a safe hospital free of harassment, Disruptive Behavior and ignoring rules and regulations.
It was headed in the right direction to rid itself of its cancers and become clean again.

Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2013
Article comment by: To @ fearful employee

It was on track, it was about to get rid of the Cancers that have kept this Hospital from ever really moving forward, and keeping in it compliance with the law.
We are now back to business as usual, patients be dammed.

Posted: Saturday, January 26, 2013
Article comment by: @ fearful employee

Where was I? I was sitting at home because I figured that everything was okay because if it was not the pvvt would tell us. We were told for 2 years that the hospital was on the right track. Why do you think that you have people from all kinds of different walks of life at the meetings and letting their feelings be known. After reading how the hospital should be privitized by the pvvt it makes me wonder (deleted)

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

Posted: Saturday, January 26, 2013
Article comment by: WOW WOW

While I think that Trina being on the board is a conflict I also think Quitty being on the board is also a conflict. BUT give the board a chance YOU elected them. AND if you don't like it do your best to bypass this hospital and head directly for Palm Desert.

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

No disrespect taken by anyone's comment. :) One factor we cannot control is people getting sick or needing surgery. That issue comes only as people walk through the door needing services. There is no control on how often people's health become an issue. I know employees that work at PVH. Not board members or Dr S. Had to make that clear first because I know how people on here can assume. LOL! My lifelong doctor is Dr Brookes, (great individual) but I never got into his business with hospital issues. But I do know that the one consistent issue for years is that like any other business, PVH can busy and at times slow down. And yes some numbers have to do with the prison not bringing what they used to. And your correct that most likely due to ties with people at Ironwood we will get some back. At least it will bring some consistency in patient numbers and income. But these are the details that are never mentioned that make impacts as well. I guess as long as a few of us think about it, the others can keep talking about the same 3-4 people as being the only factors. Or perhaps people take the time to learn of other factors that contributed to the current situation. As I mentioned on another post. "Registered Nurses" pay. Also staggering.

Posted: Saturday, January 26, 2013
Article comment by: Fearful Employee

To AJ Mcay!
No disresoect intended but Mr. Klune and the CFO announced in every meeting the status of the finances. But did anyone pay attention? Where were all of you "concerned citizens"? Where were the new board members? Why did someone come forth an question the CEO/CFO on what was up? I read in the minutes of a previous meeting that yes the hospital was moving in the right direction but also we were in a slow down of patient admits and surgeries.And with the winter months coming it expected the census to pick up. Well it didn't! Now I hear that the good Dr. S is running around at the hospital admiting patients and doing surgeries. Why did this start after the CEO was fired? Did anyone bother to ask the CEO if he had a plan other thatn the Surgical Services plan to bring this hospital out danger? No the twins and their son voted to get rid of the person with the brains. These three sold this town and the hospital out to make the good doctor and the rest of the doctors happy! Shame on you three!

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

@ AJ McKay
It’s been two years since the hospital has been losing money and it was two years ago we were told that if “Quitty” was appointed they would stop admitting. The Administrative found that the new board was
Keeping the best interest of the community, would not tolerate unethical conditions, to protect the employees from hostile environment and to create stability so they can concentrate on taking care of the patients. Even the nursing home reported losing business because the patients were being referred to another hospital and it hurt them because the patient was staying there for convalescent.
They made some smart purchases necessary to be reimbursed.
The prison started using the prison medical facilities and bus inmates to another hospital with a larger amount of services being offered.
I foresee them possibly come back through the alliances the new board members have with some staff at Ironwood.
The key is if the MEC does not want someone on the board then it will never work. I challenge you to get off the blog for a while and go help the board run the hospital, they need you there. LOL!

Posted: Saturday, January 26, 2013
Article comment by: Its to bad (deleted)

That you do not really know what has gone on at PVH the last 6 years. If you did it would make your post a little more believable.

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

So someone is suggesting Klune was going to take people down when it is his responsibility to make sure the hospital never got in this position in the first place? He wasn't gonna take anyone down. He simply was getting paid and would gain financially no matter what. The hospital doesn't become short on funds in 1, 2, or 3 months. This situation started a long time ago. You don't have to work at the hospital to know that millions of dollars (so we were told) being spent couldn't possibly go unnoticed. At the least it's the CEO's job to make sure everyone is update the financial situation periodically. The town does not allow anyone to do anything. Only people that work within or represent the hospital system do. As far as the financial situation goes, it didn't happen in just a month or two. What about the past couple years. Obviously the previous board as whole dropped the ball as well. Simply a compilation of many people not doing their job well seems to be a good explanation.

Posted: Saturday, January 26, 2013
Article comment by: @This town is blind

Yes, some of us are aware. That is one of the difficulties, and "they" know it, but do not care. You know about the furious temper tantrums, all the "imperfections" found in your work, all the threats. I truly admire you for what you are doing, and putting up with. You shouldn't have to tolerate the humiliations and the fits, etc. in order to have a job at all. We all know it is not right - except the perpetrator and his (deleted) board members as well as, I'm finding, in other areas of the town. Many of us are praying for you... or we at least ought to be. I can't believe the daily stress you must put up with. I do hope you are praying, too.

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

Posted: Saturday, January 26, 2013
Article comment by: Blythe Thinker

Don't you find it "strange" that in the last decade or so we have had so many CEO's? How can ANYTHING happen when we have so many starts and stops? No consistency, no solid consistency except having to take on a new CEO with different traits? New CEO, and at least ONE of the "new" board members was part of the hiring and salary-setting settlement. The CEO is "beloved" - for a short term. Then, suddlenly, somebody from MEC is "unhappy" that the CEO is trying to do his job, not just trying to satisfy the MEC person(s) which is demanded. Then the little disparaging, lying, manufacturing, of "reasons" the CEO is "unqualified" and the character-assassination through gossip and flyers starts. It's just a matter of time, and the repetitive hate-mill is "successful", and a new CEO is demanded. One of the "new" board members brings up the fact that Mr. Klune is "just" a CPA. Surely she knew this when she helped hiring him in the first place? People need to pay better attention, and realize you can't believe, unfortunately, all the stuff candidates say. Get informed. Come watch the performances at board meetings, and you will see for yourselve.

Posted: Friday, January 25, 2013
Article comment by: This town is blind

None of you commentators should be making comments about what you THINK you know unless you actually work at the hospital and see firsthand what is going on.....the staff know pretty much everything ( and I'm NOT referring to administration...they don't know the half of it). If only their jobs were protected and they could all speak.... Its ludicrous and so corrupt....

Posted: Friday, January 25, 2013
Article comment by: This town is blind

El Pica Buyas, you are definitely right when you suggest that they are afraid of Klune....they knew he was about to take them down and decided to fire him first.....it is amazing to me that this town lets Mr. Surgeon do whatever he wants and control whoever he wants (Trina and Sandy).......the (deleted) has only begun to hit the fan......

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

Posted: Friday, January 25, 2013
Article comment by: The Human Hemma Roid

Welcome to the Sequel: "The Never Ending Story, Part Two! The Blythe Chronicles.

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