The Buzz around Portneuf Medical Center

The Buzz around Portneuf Medical Center

Lately, there has been quite a “buzz” around Portneuf Medical Center. The good, the bad, the ugly, and everything in between are passionately being discussed by residents. A simple fluff piece about a life flight nurse, which I posted on this blog, indirectly uncovered some extremely deep senitiments about the organization for which he works.

What is at stake? Nothing less than the direction of the Portneuf Medical Center, our community’s well being, and a significant impact on the future of health care in Idaho.

Click below for details, and join in the discussion.

Or, please drop me a line and let me know what you think.

My email is author@michaelrstrickland.com

My mailing address is:

Michael Strickland
775 Yellowstone Avenue #206
Pocatello, ID 83201

The Buzz around Portneuf Medical Center

Lately, there has been quite a “buzz” around Portneuf Medical Center. The good, the bad, the ugly, and everything in between are passionately being discussed by residents. A simple fluff piece about a life flight nurse, which I posted on this blog, indirectly uncovered some extremely deep sentiments about the organization for which he works.

What is at stake? Nothing less than the direction of the Portneuf Medical Center , our community’s well being, and a significant impact on the future of health care in Idaho.

The saga began on March 9th, when I put the following post, “Journal Staff Challenged to Report Alleged Problems at Portneuf Medical Center,” here on the Community Blog:

“… The thoughts below were posted by screenname “get the facts” this morning at 12:25 am. The article that this poster refers to is a previous entry, about a Life Flight Nurse.

With regards to the issues mentioned, I have heard similar concerns voiced by certain local professionals in the medical community.”

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“get the facts” said …

” … Good article, don’t know if I could do a job that stressful.

Come on, when is the Journal going to look at the bigger picture of what the heck is wrong with Portneuf Medical Center? Why are physicians and nurses leaving left and right and so disgruntled? Why is morale so low among employees and medical staff? Why is the hospital looking to go private or sell? Why is a ton of money poured into a heart center and other good programs short-changed? Why tear down a great daycare and raise fees so much at the new one that parents are forced to look elsewhere for childcare? The glossed over articles about programs and editorials from administration don’t make sense when compared with what we in the community hear is really happening from many sources. What’s the REAL story?

I suspect the Journal is afraid to really tackle what is happening at Portneuf, or is completely clueless. Possibly afraid to lose advertising revenue, the good ‘ol boy network is alive and well, or no writer is experienced enough to get to the bottom of a once good hospital going down the drain?

There have only been a few (maybe 2) articles recently that barely touch on the real story. …”.

From this post, the conversation took on a life of its own. Several people wrote in with comments, concerns, suggestions, and feedback about the hospital begining with this thought posted by “Leah” on March 9:

” … As soon as Portneuf became the only hospital choice for this city, services and care have steadly gone down hill. They have put piles of money into programs and remodeling only to demolish the new areas without regards to the money spent.

They have put piles of money into a cancer center that many individuals will not go to because of the doctors staffing it. A quote from a Portneuff spokes man says that, “Dr. Pierson is good with people, he is Yang to Dr. Franscisco’s Ying”

The Emergency room is a nightmare to go to and many have taken up going to Blackfoot for care, where services are friendly, and timely.

The bottom line is that the hospital is a tax exempt entity, they have no competition and no reason to give better services because there is no options for most people. Portneuff has even said -as far as selling the old hospital, we would not sell it to another hospital, that would only create competition.

So the rich get richer, and the rest of us, well we are creating a second class of citizen. …”.

This next set of thoughts was posted by “Idaho Resident Speaks” on March 11:

” … Re: Comment from Leah has some truths. I don’t know about the particular doctor mentioned, but I think it was a “boon-doggle” right from the get-go particularily, when the County took over. Now they are expanding and don’t have the resources to complete and as a taxpayer, I don’t want to foot the bill, thank you! I have had recent care at the hospital, so I am thankful that I had that resource to fall back on. But if care and attention to detail are being compromised, then its time for someone to acrtively take a leadership role. Maybe the citizenry ought to look at replacing some County Comissioners? It seems to me that this hospital as it currently stands, is at a crossroad. Which way will it go in the future? Maybe it should have stayed in the private sector as part of it once was and is no more!!! …”.

Then on March 14, “LAW RN” wrote in with positive feelings:

” … As a recent graduate from ISU’s RN program, I would like to thank PMC for the clinical time and experiences I participated in throughout my education. We are fortunate as a community to have this medical facility close to ISU. I was able to learn how to think critically as a nurse with the help of Lance and many of the other enthusiastic nurses working at PMC. I look forward to a professional career in nursing and am proud to acknowledge PMC for its contribution to this community. …”.

This next comment was posted by “RN on the move” that same day:

” … I, too, have been suprised at the lack of investigative reporting. I am beginning to think that the newspaper is avoiding anything negative about the hospital.

The timing of the article is curious as is the choice of employee. Let’s pick someone who only works two days a week and who’s department get’s anything they want. He won’t be facing low census/pay cuts. He won’t be having to increase his workload and see the patients suffer. The first paragraph states the intent of the article. All is well, employees are happy, vote for this administration team.

This is a county facility. The county should be well informed about the money being spent and the liabillities incurred. Does the hospital even have a positive net worth? Will it after this next bond issue?

The hospital has gone through a complete change of managers and administrators since the merge. It has formed a well oiled dictatorship by a single individual. His way or the highway.

Although many employees love this valley very much, they can only take so much military-style order-barking before they get displaced. Jobs are just a move away (paid for by their new employer).

And if you choose to speak your mind… You had better have another job lined up!

Please ISJ, I’ll renew my subscription if I start to see some real fact finding in the next year before the big “vote”.

The employees are what makes the hospital great. Good nurses attract good doctors. Good nurses will make patient outcomes.

-My thoughts …”.

“me too” gave us the following ideas on March 15:

” … The letter a recently departed doctor wrote the administration outlining the issues and concerns within the hospital pretty much sums it up. Ask around and you’ll find a copy. …”.

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Apparently in response to these community voices, the hospital’s President and CEO, Pat Hermanson, wrote an article called “PMC facing some tough choices,” which first appeared on this blog on March 16. The piece was later printed in the regular newspaper.

Below is an excerpt:

” … If you’ve been anywhere near Portneuf Medical Center’s campus on Hospital Way recently, you’ve surely noticed the buzz of activity as we build the hospital of the future for our community and region.

Yet even as we build that state-of-the-art framework for the future, the ability of your hospital to provide Southeast Idaho with the highest-caliber health care possible is becoming increasingly burdened by aging infrastructure at PMC’s West Campus.

Our ongoing construction provides a perfect compliment to remarkable advances in cancer treatment, new surgical technologies, and state of the art medical imaging that keep PMC at the leading edge of health care in our region. Conversely, our aging facilities, where crucial medical services like emergency care, pediatric intensive care, and labor and delivery services are provided, prevent us from taking full advantage of the expertise of our dedicated medical professionals and our superior equipment.

For example, PMC treats more than 40,000 emergency medical cases annually in a facility that was built to accommodate 15,000 visits almost 60 years ago.

It’s an untenable situation made even more difficult by an Idaho Supreme Court decision from last year that precludes PMC from tackling these very issues. …”.

For the full text of Pat Hermanson’s article, see:
http://www.pocatelloshops.com/blogs/Journal_Opinion.php?id=2443

On March 18, Barbara Felton responded to Hermanson:

” … Perhaps it might be an idea worth considering to contact Intermtn. Health Care to question if they might be interested in taking over our hospital. They have the capital and may have the interest to continue the improvements begun locally. Also, because of their organization they have access to drugs and equipment at reduced prices. Their organization is well run, effficient as was PRMC. Of course that might be stepping on too many Pocatello toes!!!!! …”.

***

In the March 24 Idaho State Journal, a story written by Debbie Bryce appears, entitled:

“Should PMC go private? Commission to form panel of residents to offer advice on plan.”

“Bannock County Commission Chairman Larry Ghan said the county is seeking to create a 15-member citizen panel to gather input regarding options facing Portneuf Medical Center as a result of an Idaho Supreme Court ruling last year,” Bryce writes. “Ghan said the board will be drawn from Bannock County’s seven cities. Ghan so far has commitments including health care workers, ranchers, local business people and former PMC board members.”

Bryce continues: “Ghan also said he’ll ask for an opinion from the Idaho attorney general regarding the hospital’s future. The county could respond to the Supreme Court ruling in one of three ways …”.

For the complete text of this article, see:

www.idahostatejournal.com/articles/2007/03/24/news/breaking/news02.txt

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What are your thoughts on the recent buzz around Portneuf Medical Center?

Does Barbara Felton have a good idea, with the suggested Intermountain takeover?

Does anyone know the contents of the letter that “me too” mentions, from a recently departed doctor, that reportedly summarizes what is wrong with Portneuf Medical Center?

Does Portneuf Medical Center do exit interviews on employees? If so, what do the employees say about why they are leaving?

How do you feel about the approach that Bannock County Commission Chairman Larry Ghan is taking?

Does the management of the Idaho State Journal avoid saying anything negative about Portneuf Medical Center because they are afraid to lose the big advertising dollars?

Voice your feedback, thoughts, and concerns — and help our community get the work done that it needs to prosper.

Please drop me a line and let me know what you think.

My email is author@michaelrstrickland.com

My mailing address is:

Michael Strickland
775 Yellowstone Avenue #206
Pocatello, ID 83201