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home : latest news : regional November 25, 2015

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

Continuing in our little lesson in avoiding just selecting those portions of a rule you want to follow, in addition to learning to be able to reading a piece and avoid, also, the temptation to read and comment on just a portion that you can take out of context and interpret your own way. A technique which, by the way is totally acceptable and encouraged in your "people". You say the talking time is "normally" three minutes. Then can you explain why the little ding-a-ling consistently went off at five minutes? I don't get it. Your sources are giving you incorrect information so you can convince others who have closed their eyes, ears, and hearts to truth. You also, I have to tell you, totally did not choose to understand what I actually said. I am morally dead against CRUCIFYING a person in public. Aside from that, if you will take the time to read for yourself, you will find in Roberts' Rules of Order that using this method to make "speeches" that include making scurrilous remarks about board members, others in the audience or other "ugly" stuff is OUT OF ORDER. Remember that. This crud is ludicrous to say "at the discretion of the chair" when in this case, I strongly believe that many of these people with hate eating at their hearts were very likely called and told to come. Since three of the board members are already getting paid for services, I hope the speakers didn't get paid, too. As should be clear by now, people with differing views of the "power" seekers don't share will very likely get their car tires slashed or some other time-honores method of intimidation. My wife is scared in her own home. Is this right?

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

If you follow rules, it is vital to be sure to read and follow them in their entirety, not just portions you want. When you read and FOLLOW the Times' rules you will find you have chosen only a portion to try to portray me in your group. The Editor has discretion, too and he has deleted portions of comments, too. Fair and balanced.

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

Come on EL PICA. Your killing me! LOL! Accuse someone for carrying out an order to slash tires? So if Dr S's tires were slashed, we can say it's because Mr Weete(or affiliates) fore carrying out the unlawful act. And at Mr Allan. Unfortunately readers as of late do not care about facts. They have chosen a side and no proof that discredits their statements or opinions is going to change anything. They contribute to the confusion and misinformation at times.

Posted: Saturday, January 26, 2013
Article comment by: Jere Allan

Just as I thought, you are interested only in your side. A very wise man said, "The first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him." FYI what was sensored from my post had nothing whatsoever to do with Dr. Sahlolbei. Yes, I support ALL of the doctors, it is they who bring the money into the hospital, not board members or news papers. And at the last board meeting those Dr.s who spoke made a lot of sense. I hope you were there and listened. I have no conflict of interest(s) with any one or any thing I am aware. Maybe allergies but no conflicts. LOL.

Posted: Saturday, January 26, 2013
Article comment by: EL PICA BUYAS

People what is going on here? You have peoples tires vandalized. For speaking out against the status quo of the elite. So whats next? a baseball bat at night. So why do the people in charge of the circus that is called the hospital not speak out against this type of intimation? As the Vise President, said it's time to get a shotgun for self protection.

Posted: Saturday, January 26, 2013
Article comment by: @ Jere Allan

That would not be necessary as we already know you support Dr. Sahlolbei. If on the Board you too would probable have a conflict of Interest.

Posted: Saturday, January 26, 2013
Article comment by: Jere Allan

Carrie, you are excused. I would not want you to support corruption, either. What I would hope you do support is the right of those who disagree with you to have their say. What corruption are you not supporting? I hope you noted that my comment had been sensored, (deleted) and you will never get the "rest of the story" unless you want to come by my office and read for yourself.

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

Hey Mr. Weete!
Keep up with keeping the circus on task. I gues following the by-laws of three min limit is out of the question?I am sure we will expect to see that change next.. lol

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

I am glad to know that you feel that way and I hope the next time it happens at our city council meeting by members of the community or even worse a sitting councilman that you will chastize them also. You should hold all to the same standards. By the way Mr. Weete the talking time by the public is normally 3 minutes but it is at the discretion of the board president to allow people to talk longer if that person wishes as long as it is applied fairly. Was simply stating that you could have talked for as long as you want. Intimidation? I have heard numerous employees get up and speak good and bad things about the hospital and what does the general public have to be intimidated about? You seem to try and paint this picture of Trina as this woman that wont let those that oppose her have their say. I will grant you that things started out rocky but they are getting better in regards to the meetings from a procedural standpoint. It is pretty common for new board members to have to learn what they can and can't do. Just go look at videos of the city council meetings. Happens there also. So I guess in your eyes citizens can not speak out against those in power freely. I guess we should just leave it to the PVVT right. By the way go count how many words your last entry was. I know I have had things removed for being over 300 words. Fair and balanced Bob

Posted: Saturday, January 26, 2013
Article comment by: Carrie Catt

Excuse me, Jere Allen, I have a problem with getting behind and supporting corruption.

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

With all due respect, you are incorrect. The chair did, indeed, have a timer, that went off at the five minutes, but it was ignored, and the majority of speakers just went on, with no effort from the chair to stop. Most went on for at least 10 minutes. The "courtesy" you speak of, allowed them to crucify Mr. Klune on and on. If you call that "courtesy", I disagree. It is shear unprofessionalism. Read the Rules of behavior, and you will find that in civilized meetings, such horrid DIScourtesies of making disparaging remarks against ANYBODY is disallowed. The chair clearly was content to allow this to proceed, unhindered. A set-up, I would assume. It is no wonder we have so many diffferent CEOs. They are here for a time, until they do something that displeases MEC, and then the agenda to bad-mouth him begins deliberately to undermine him. Wake up, folks. I believe I can say, so you may understand, the "other side", you say has the opportunity to talk, but they don't I'm not surprised. It's called intimidation which has been rampant for years. I doubt that you will have people who want to put themselves in danger. I know. I spoke last meeting about the importance to actually follow rules of order to avoid the production of hateful and angry statements that are intended to inflame the people and produce loud and boisterous clapping of support. (Intimidation.) That, also, in a real civilized meeting, is not allowed, either, but is useful in intimidating those who disagree. On Wednesday evening last, the night after I spoke concerning this disrespectful behavior, my two cars were vandalized by someone who had an icepick. Eight tires were destroyed, "Coincidence"? Maybe. Anybody going to share with us just how that flyer was produced that had everyone believing that it came from the hospital? Bunch of hate spewing out - from the hospital? NO SIGNATURE" Come on, Blythe, you've got to start noticing how things are being done.

Posted: Friday, January 25, 2013
Article comment by: @ bob weete

Every person that wanted to speak at the meeting were all afforded the same courtesies. If you wanted to speak for 5 minutes then you could have. When issues with such importance and significance were on the agenda like they were I believe that the board should fully listen to what all the voters have to say. Unfortunately for the people that see things as you do there is no one coming and fighting for their beliefs. We understand that you were not happy with what people had to say but people are also upset that they were told a few short months ago that the hospital was fine by the hospital executives. In regards to your tires I personally find it abhorrent and do not condone such actions and I would bet that neither do any of the board members.

Posted: Friday, January 25, 2013
Article comment by: HOW ABOUT IT

Why don't sandy, trina, and sam explain the money conection they all have with a certain dr. you know, the rent house, (deleted) donation to your cause and (deleted) people to use your bussiness.

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: Splain it to me


Posted: Friday, January 25, 2013
Article comment by: Bob Weete

Blythe people, this has gone on long enough, in my humble opinion. I believe I see at least part of the problem. I have attended a number of meetings over the years, and one that it very notable. None of the meetings follow Roberts' Rules of order. It is very easy to understand the reason it is not used. It subjects certain people to follow some civil rules that are widely accepted protocol. Many reasons for them. To keep order, to limit people from grandstanding, or performing for long periods of time with a personal agenda, to allow as many people as possible to briefly state their views, to allow uninterrupted statements, to keep people from making multipler repeating statements, and probably other reasons. The rules also are intended to prevent uncivilized personal attacks on anyone. Roberts' Rules also presents appropriate ways to make motions (this isn't even done right even my high school students knew better), and some of the more complex issues. Other than this, freedom of speech is sanctioned - but not on this board. At the last meeting, I was, again, appalled at the total lack of courtesty, respect, and sensible behavior exhibited and allowed by the chair. People on the "agenda" of three board members were continuously allowed to speak as long as desired, and many of them were saturated with venom, hatred, and inapropriate for business of this kind.
The next evening, my two cars sitting on my property in the driveway of my house had all four of the tires slashed. Coincidence? Well, maybe. I was a high school teacher for over 40 years and I got the usual toilet papering, but never anything like this. Now my wife is afraid in her own house, my daughter is concerned, and needless to say, I am stressed.
Is this what American life is supposed to be? It will be, if the many really good people here do not stand up. If you have ears to hear, listen if you have eyes to see, observe.

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