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Coulee Medical Center ER and Walk-In Care

Commission begins hospital redirection


Facing another litany of complaints about mismanagement, hospital commissioners Monday directed changes in two key policies that have angered community members and medical staff.

The commission directed CEO Scott Graham to find a legal way to relaunch a popular lab test discount program that has taken place each spring for years but was halted last year on advice from the hospital district’s former attorney.

The personnel/compliance com-mittee had been “bombarded” by concerns from the community after Lincoln Hospital of Davenport advertised in The Star for a similar program, Commissioner Betty Brueske said.

“We need to revisit that then, because the community is very upset about that still, and we’d like very much for that to be resumed,” she said.

The legal advice had been that state and federal laws made the reduced prices illegal, “but apparently that’s not the case,” Brueske said. “We are hoping that we can bring back the lab tests this year.”

Commissioner Geary Oliver said he had done a lot of research on the question last year and found that because the hospital charges the patient directly for the reduced-cost test and doesn’t charge Medicare, the federal government doesn’t have a problem with it.

Commission President Jerry Kennedy then tackled a key sticking point with medical personnel.

A resolution concerning the structure of medical provider pay passed last September, he said, was no longer “applicable.”

“It was part of a process of negotiating new provider compensation contracts, and it provided some direction to the superintendent in that process,” Kennedy said.

Resolution 813, Dr. Andrew Castrodale told The Star last month, would not work for him and certainly cannot be used to recruit new physicians.

Kennedy said the board would introduce a resolution for a new direction next month.

He said the last year had been a hard one on Coulee Medical Center employees and the facility.

“It’s not been ‘the best place to work,’” he said, a reference to a core value in the Coulee Medical Center’s “mission, vision and values,” cited each month by the commission at the beginning of its meeting.

Some employees in the hall were wearing red T-shirts advocating the formation of a union bargaining unit for workers other than registered nurses, who signed cards two weeks ago to form a union.

Austin DePaolo, of the United Food & Commercial Workers Union, Local 1439, told The Star that some 90 percent of those employees at the hospital had also signed cards seeking representation and he would file documentation Tuesday with the state.

During public comments, several citizens offered feedback ranging from a tale of improper billing to a petition for removal of the administration.

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