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home : opinions : columns October 3, 2015

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:
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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, January 25, 2013
Article comment by: Aj McKay

The hospital according to information provided, cannot support the current or exclusive contract. Simply not enough patients. Money to afford anything comes from patients and surgeries. Thats how a hospital works to support itself. An exclusive contract wouldnt save any more money so how is it more beneficial at least at this point? It can't be because of the time it takes to transport patients to the airport because transportation times never resulted in any fatalities and only opinions. Those opinions being from people who never used the service most likely. Lets be honest. If Trina didn't own the business there would be no discussion. I say again. How would one, two, or three services make a difference at all if there are not enough patients that need those services? Right now it seems like the hospital's priotiry is to generate revenue and not so much transportation. At least not at this point. Perhaps down the line it may and time will tell. But as long as PVVT makes it the issue I guess thats what will be discussed. It is what it is.......

Posted: Friday, January 25, 2013
Article comment by: just me@ Carolyn Dekens

Carolyn you need to stop and think about what you are doing.(deleted).Think about it.In advance if you do run for the board you won't get my vote.

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: To Kim Mahara

You obviously did not attend the meeting or listen to the recording.
$477,000. Or are you just a fan of the money hungry crowd on the board supported by the their leader that has a fraud suit against him.

Posted: Friday, January 25, 2013
Article comment by: Kim Mahara

The cost to pay off the CEO is $600,000. I got a letter in the mail from the hospital and that's what they reported his salary to be. Get it right pvvt.

Posted: Friday, January 25, 2013
Article comment by: @ Carolyn Dekens

No but the Fraud Suit against Sahlolbei might.
See: http://www.paloverdevalleytimes.com/main.asp?SectionID=1&SubSectionID=1&ArticleID=17798

You defend Trina saying she did not want an exclusive contract when in fact she now has one. Her friend will see to it as he always has!
Helicopter or no Helicopter - I for one would want a free helicopter parked at PVH waiting for me rather then have to being ground transported out to Blythe airport, fixed winged to Desert then ground transported again to Desert!
Your explanations are all full of air and keep me on the ground!

Posted: Friday, January 25, 2013
Article comment by: Aj McKay

@CAROLYN you hit the nail right on the head. Klune was going be gone far before any helicopter was mentioned. There's no way Klune couldn't of seen it coming. Probably lucky it didn't happen sooner. It just an opportune time to suggest Trina's business was the reason. What would other services be competing for? Even if you had three air services they wouldn't make enough to make it worth their time or make enough to cover expenses from sharing. One strong is better than two struggling. Even if Trina wasn't the owner it still wouldn't make sense at this point. If there was more patients then it would seem another service makes sense. Blythe as a whole is in high demand for more "competitive services" in many consumer areas. Some local business filed in court to keep Wal Mart out of Blythe. If this article is based on competitive services tell us something we don't already know. Or can I buy DC Shoes or baseball uniforms at more than one location in town? LOL! :)

Posted: Friday, January 25, 2013
Article comment by: Resident of Blythe

@ Carolyn, you are the one sligning the mud. Gabbiest in the crowd. Your such pretty women isn't that enough? Oh and I agree you have a vengence against the CEO for a couple reasons I will not say. I don't get the buddy connection you have with Hudson?

Posted: Friday, January 25, 2013
Article comment by: Resident of Blythe

I listened to Jan 16th recording of the PVH BOD meeting. The BOD President spent a lot of time asking questions that made her shine. She had concerns of contact phone numbers on the website not working. Thatís old news. The returning attorney announced he's had disagreements with DR S., but has a lot of respect for him. I remember the past and it would get pretty heated in the meetings between them, so good job Dr. Brooks on bringing the attorney back. The radio announcement on Jan 22nd, informed the public that the hospital currently had $3.6 mil in cash, but listening to the recording, I heard 4.6mil. I tried to down load Finance materials presented to the directors and I couldnít pull Nov and Dec report so I could not compare. It was reported in the Jul financial archives we had $7mil cash. So since July we have lost 3 million? I would like to view, Nov and Dec financial reports, so can you please put it up on the PVH website? Jul through Oct income loss for operations had an average monthly loss of approx. $90K
I heard the suggestion by the attorney to bring forward the monthly warrants for directorís review and approval. What a good suggestion. The treasurer is Sam Burton. Keep a good eye on it, better than your own.
Finally the CFO broke down the salary the CEO was really , really making a reportable $477k, 2012 annual salary which includes deferred compensation, this confirms that the $600k was a misleading voter campaign ploy and the current letter to the community was nothing but slanderous.

Posted: Friday, January 25, 2013
Article comment by: just do it

The pastor should just be a pastor ,the business woman she should just be a business woman (trina )the (deleted) lady well just be a a (deleted) lady .Dr. S just Doctor .the retired sheriff guy just go to barnes and noble and enjoy sir.We real families just want our hospital back .look i dont know what a hospital CEO should make but thats a grip.A very wise man once told me "you can always be great at doing one thing and like NIKE just do it.

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: @Carolyn Dekens

Is the Doc going to pay for your posters when you run for the board? How, if you've done all these things have you learned nothing, apparently, about people who are power hungry and will stop at nothing to get what they want? It's too bad staff is so intimidated that they can't step forward and tell you how many times your buddy, Doc, has spewed his disapproval because they didn't do something the way he wanted it done? Did you know that at one time he threatend to FIRE volunteers because they were putting something together they way they had been told, but HE didn't like it? It's just a matter of time before he becomes "displeased" with any new CEO they bring in. Wait and see. And your buddy Sandra was instrumental in hiring and placing the salary level of Mr. Klune. This place is run with NO RULES, so your Doc can yell and scream at helpless employees. He know enough to cow-tow to "important" people and people he can (deleted). We need some real board members who don't just "sound" like they care but really are only interested in what THEY can get out of it. Might consider, also, getting off the blame the Times bandwagon, unless you are able to deal with real truth. Have a good day.

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: Phantom Nose

People who ignore history are condemned to repeat it. Thank you for the history lesson pvvt

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

What you don't seem to want to understand is that helicopter or no helicopter, airplane or no airplane- this is not a way to keep the hospital from sinking! And Peter Klune had to be paid whether there or not- and he was doing nothing to increase income at the hospital. He had to know the funds were drying up- unless he is going to blame the CFO for keeping him in the dark???? So, it makes you wonder if he didn't have a better deal already in the wings?

And, you can say what you want about Trina, but she is not pushing for an exclusive contract for transport by her company. The public is asking to be able to make that choice.

So, instead of being so negative, give the board and the community an opportunity to see what they can accomplish. The medical doctors have already volunteered a paycut- you didn't report that! And I'm sure they will, as they have in the past, cut their renumeration to the bone. Why can't you report anything with a positive outlook? I think we are all tired of the same old rhetoric.

And I really don't care if you like me, or any one else likes me. My husband and I have always been involved in committees, activities, and boards that worked to make improvements in our community. We've donated countless hours and many dollars. How many of you who are slinging mud can make that same statement?

I ask once again that you look back at the last two years of hospital records.

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

Good question! Why don't we have ANY competition in this town?? No competition usually means high prices. That's why we shop out of town.

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: EL PICA BUYAS

These people must be afraid of this CEO. That they fired him with pay and benefits. Maybe it's because if he stays they will lose more than they are paying him for leaving. At the other end of the spectrum you have a City Manger that no one want's to fire because it would cost the Tax's Payers Muncho Buck's. I guess if you go with the flow they throw you a life preserver and a good boat with oars to navigate against the will of the people. But if you go against the flow they put you on a leaky raft.

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

You forgot to mention that the three members who voted to make the issues about surgical services contracts and the transportation issue disappear. How is that a benefit to the citizens of Blythe?. Are these three any better than the unfortunate people in Blythe? Do the people not deserve the same opportunity to have specialists available to do their surgergies? Who benefits by making these two issues go away? Dr. S and Trina! I think these three have sold out our people for their own personal agenda.

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