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1/23/2013 1:59:00 PM
Healthcare District Board votes 3-2 to fire CEO Peter Klune
Peter Klune
Peter Klune

Marty Bachman

BLYTHE - The Palo Verde Healthcare District Board fired Palo Verde Hospital CEO Peter Klune during closed session at their board meeting last Tuesday night. Board President Trina Sartin was joined by board members Sam Burton and Sandy Hudson in voting to dismiss Klune while all five board members voted in favor of keeping the hospital's chief financial officer, Dennis Rutherford, as interim CEO until a replacement could be found.

No grounds were given for the firing of Klune, which means the hospital will pay his salary and benefits for the next year, a figure that is expected to be close to $500,000. Board President Trina Sartin did not respond as to why Klune was dismissed.

Klune, who was the fifth CEO hired by the hospital since 2007, lasted almost four years before his termination. He became a target back in July 2010 when then Board President Jim Carney and his former running mate, Hudson, who was supported by the hospital's medical staff, split on deciding who to appoint to replace board member Francisco Tejeda, who had resigned. Carney wanted Quitty Pinon while Hudson pushed for Floyd Marlowe.

The choice was given to Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit after the board voted 2-1-1 to appoint Pinon with board member Tim Maley abstaining. Benoit appointed Beverly Mays, who had been voted off the Blythe City Council the prior November. Mays was defeated in a run for the seat the following November as was Hudson. Pinon, Catalina McClain and Sam Burton were all elected in November 2010. Carney, Pinon, McClain and board member Rosalie Carlton formed a voting bloc that supported Klune and became enemies of the medical staff.

In 2012, the board voted to change the transportation policy at the hospital, putting both Blythe Ambulance, which Pinon worked for, and Desert Air Ambulance, which is owned by current Board President Trina Sartin, on a rotating schedule with each on call every other day. According to a conflict of interest report published by the board's attorneys, medical staff member and current hospital chief of staff, Dr. Hossain Sahlolbei, was promoting Sartin's ambulance service within the hospital before the policy was changed.

The vote to put the companies on rotating schedules inspired Sartin to ally with Hudson in a run for board seats and the two both won last November, replacing Klune supporters Carney and Carlton.

In addition to firing Klune, the board also voted to put an end to the requests for proposals the previous board had voted to issue for exclusive contracts for both surgical services and transportation services to other hospitals. The vote to stop the transportation proposal was 2-1 with Hudson and Burton in favor and McClain against. Both Sartin and Pinon recused themselves due to conflicts.

The vote to end the search for surgical services was 3-0, with Burton, Hudson and Sartin in favor and McClain and Pinon having to recuse themselves due to the fact that Sahlolbei was suing them.

In another lawsuit, the medical staff had obtained a temporary restraining order to stop the hospital from contracting out the surgical services. That case is expected to be dropped now.

Related Stories:
• Former hospital officials trial against hospital district, members began April 21
• Former hospital officials trial against hospital district, members begins Tuesday
• 'Corrupt' alleges latest lawsuit against hospital doctors
• 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
• Fired hospital chief had proposed basing helicopter at hospital prior to dismissal
• Drop in patients and surgeries pushes hospital to financial brink
• Sahlolbei sues hospital in federal court
• Healthcare District Board authorizes CEO to issue RFPs to contract out transportation and surgical services
• TIMES EDITORIAL: Let's get bids on hospital services and then make a decision

Related Links:
• Healthcare District files lawsuit against hospital surgeon, Hossain Sahlolbei
• Sahlolbei attorneys file demurrer in response to suit
• Former DA warns board members of potential conflicts

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, January 28, 2013
Article comment by: Aj McKay

Well said. But can all people support the board without worrying about what their friends think is the real question? You don't have to like anyone to work with them. Individuals with different views not being able to work together seems to be a trend these days. Even at the government level. The only difference is that here in Blythe people are not informed enough or do not have enough details to come to a sensible opinion. The only source is the info provided by one media outlet or from the mouths of those who are close to them. Sad really . . . .

Posted: Monday, January 28, 2013
Article comment by: EL PICA BUYAS

@Mr. Allen. You wrote " I assure you that if there is corruption going on, one side is just as guilty as the other". Your words. Mr. Allen. So now you concede that your side is corrupt. About that Nurse do you have proof or is it hearsay? Maybe it was MEC that did not want it know that the Hospital was below standards. Will we ever know the truth of what is going on at the Hospital? The Devil's best weapon was to make the people, believe that he did not exist. Case in point.

Posted: Monday, January 28, 2013
Article comment by: Jere Allan

Carrie Catt & @Jere, This will be my last comment. "Amen?" LOL. Two things to clear up that both of you are so dead wrong about. I don't take sides! I am for the salvation of this hospital and I use local doctors and surgeons and this hospital when necessary. That seems to be more than either of you do. Secondly you both indicate that "corruption" can only come from one side and accusedly my so called side. I assure you that if there is corruption going on, one side is just as guilty as the other. I know of one travel nurse that was brought in to work the ICU. She found numerous things wrong and let management know, which was part of her job, She began action to correct those problems and was let go within barely a month. It would have taken money to fix those problems. She was stunned! She believed she was given a 6 month's contract, and was getting settled, ready to move her family to Blythe. She was told that her contract was for "up to" 6 months, not 6 months and she could be terminated any time.. Maybe not "corruption" but "dirty pool" to say the least and that was from "your side" so called. Suggestion - Why don't we forget this "your side" - "my side" sillyness and take "no side", but support the new board and save the hospital for the sake of "all sides." The board is now composed of members from "your side" and "my side"so called. As long as the current animosity exists, it is going to be a long process. "Every man's way is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts." (Prov.21:2).

Posted: Monday, January 28, 2013
Article comment by: just me@carrie cat

Preach it sister to Jere Allan its the Gospel Amen.

Posted: Monday, January 28, 2013
Article comment by: Bob Weete

Ms. Catt - what astounding observations. Needless to say, I agree wholeheartedly. The thing is, so many people are able to be duped into believe what they are hearing from smooth-talking "leaders" and people who profess to be totally dedicated to patients, to the people of Blythe, to the medical profession, and, lest we forget, MONEY AND POWER!

Posted: Monday, January 28, 2013
Article comment by: @Jere Allen

Talking about taking sides and/or being objective, did you ever sit down and listen to Peter Klune. I'm fairly sure you did not. Perhaps you should practice what you preach.

Posted: Monday, January 28, 2013
Article comment by: The Future of PVH

Palo Verde Hospital will again be full of corruption, nepotism and mismanagement.

Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2013
Article comment by: To Carrie Catt

I do not think I could said that any better.
Kodos to you.

Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2013
Article comment by: Aj McKay

@Mr Weete is popular but not favorable back in high school explain it better? Only popular individuals get the most attention. :)

Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2013
Article comment by: @ Jere

@ Jere

I was on your team side at one time. But I saw under handed situations. I got the wool pulled over my eyes. I had no ties or signed contracts. I broke away and will never return. I can sleep at night, maybe a litte too much and I don't fall a sleep at the office. I understand why the party has many followers and I can forgive them but I won't allow myself to get near them again because you are who you hang with.

Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2013
Article comment by: EL PICA BUYAS

The big problem we have here is that some people, only see what they want to see. If it benefits them or their friends, they will see it, or especially if it endangers their interest. You can have 3 people say something happened at the meeting and if go's against the powers that be. 10 or more people will state the these people are not telling the truth or that they misunderstood what was said. just like a video that I saw of the City council meeting you had one there mad dogging people when they misspoke. Does the hospital keep accurate records of the board meeting? Or do they hid the truth in between half-truths. Just like the City council hid the fact that money was allocated for the Rec Center, but no record was ever found. This is a big problem here, they sweep everything under the rug. So when people speak up, they are crucified in public and punish at night in the cover of darkness. They justify this by saying that they are creating business here by having these people buy new tires at the local tire shop. So what happens if the other side does the same? Will the police take a real interest or will they give you the same lip service that they gave to these victims. If the shoe fits. Wear it with a smile. So whats next putting poop in a paper-bag and lighting on fire, don't forget to knock on the door.

Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2013
Article comment by: Carrie Catt

Mr. Allen,the appearance of corruption is usually a fairly good indication that it exists. Firing the hospital's lawyers in a early meeting is an indication that the lawyers would not automatically rubber-stamp their actions. Appearances of individual financial gain is another clue. Recinding policies without research which do not favor the Board members or the MEC doesn't exactly give one confidence that this Board is acting in the best interests of the community.

Posted: Saturday, January 26, 2013
Article comment by: @ bob weete

If you are so morally dead set against crucifying people in public then why do you do it routinely in your columns? In your comments here you make accusations against people without truly knowing their motives or actions. For the record yes I am totally against people destroying anyone elses property for any reason. I understand how it feels and do not wish it upon anybody

Posted: Saturday, January 26, 2013
Article comment by: Bob Weete

To Aj McKay: I don't think ANYONE has said or suggested what you seem to. I realize it is difficult to those who have sold their souls to the devil to believe, but it's more than a councidence, frankly. I taught high school for over 40 years, and, in some cases, I certainly was not the most popular teacher. I only had my house TP'd twice in all that time. Nothing like this. With all due respect, the threats and scare tactics by member of the board and/or MEC I can swear to. Look at all the other intimidation that has taken place. Records are full of it.

Posted: Saturday, January 26, 2013
Article comment by: @ el pica buyas

First off there is no proof to say that the reason for mr. Weete's tires being ice picked was because he spoke out. Second if you want to speak of intimidation, how about all the intimidation that happens here in these comments. If you disagree with what the pvvt has to say then you are trashed here by people. Understand that there are two sides to every story and everyone should be entitled to their opinion. You here about how nasty the supporters of "the twins" are but answer this for me. Which side is calling people names here? Which side is trying to have a discussion based on what they see and believe without insulting the other side? Seems that the intimidation against free speech is coming from the pvvt and its supporters.

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