On Monday, February 9, 2021 the Lillian M. Hudspeth Hospital Board of Trustees met a t 6p.m. at the Sutton County Civic Center. The meeting was opened by Board President Mark Edwards and an invocation was delivered by Edward Earwood.

The topics of CEO recruitment and the COVID-19 Vaccine were the most widely discussed issues of the meeting.

Sharon Holman, Board member, questioned the methods that are currently being utilized to review applicants for the position of hospital CEO. Mark Edwards, Board President, explained to Holman that currently Lance Keilers, Interim CEO reviews the applications received by the recruiters at the company he owns, Connected Healthcare Solutions. He then passes on applicant information to board member Edward Earwood and me (Mark Edwards, Board President). Then applicants are selected for interview.

Connected Healthcare Solutions was contracted to aide in the CEO search when Keilers was named as interim CEO for LMH. According to Keilers, “the fee for recruitment was built in to the interim fee”. Keilers was appointed Interim CEO of LMH on June 1, 2020. He is also the President of Connected Healthcare Solutions, a Missouri based company who according to their website is a rural health care consulting company specializing in critical access hospital operations, hospital administration, physician practice management and rural health clinics. This company has been providing consulting services to the district since September of 2018.

Edwards explained to the board members and the public that Keilers screens a lot of applicants, the board would have to meet multiple times if they were to screen all applicants for the position. Sharon Holman, Boardmember responded with “Let me do my job.” Board Member Edward Earwood expressed his opinion that it is not OK that one person says we aren’t going to interview a candidate, we are elected officials and if only one person reviews and gets rid of candidates it takes away the voice of the people. A motion was made to change the applicant review process, however it did not pass.

The position is not listed on the hospital’s website under career opportunities. Keilers was asked where the job is posted on Tuesday, he reported it is listed on the ACHE website and on Indeed. He also reported that to date, there have been two candidates interviewed for the position.

The discussion related to the COVID-19 vaccine included Keilers expl aining that the hospital is unable to request or order a specific number of vaccines. He reported that the hospital has received 100 vaccines for two weeks in a row, expressing concern about future shipments of the vaccine and if LMH will receive enough vaccine to provide the second dosage while still beginning the series for vaccines others.

Keilers offered praise to the nursing staff at LMH as they successfully administered the last 100 vaccines received in one day. He added that he is confident that the nursing department will administer any number of vaccines very efficiently.

After handling the approval of minutes from the previous meeting and reviewing the financial report, the board approved new staff appointments.

The board then heard the yearly utilization review presentation given by Hillary Galindo, RN Director of Nurses. The report detailed the hospital visits and the effect of COVID-19 on decreased overall admissions to the facility. The report also noted the improvements the teams have made to the infection control policies and the efforts made to improve the quality of care delivered at LMH. Next on the agenda was the yearly annual review which is a CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) requirement for critical access hospitals. Keilers, presented the board with this report as well information regarding the goals set for completion in 2020 and the current status.

There was concern raised from the public. Cecilia Burnett questioned why only 13 employees have received both doses of the vaccine with 22 having received only the first dose.

Keilers and Galindo explained that only frontline employees are currently eligible for the vaccine adding that some employees have tested positive in the past for COVID-19 making them ineligible for the vaccine for 90 days. Further, employees do have the right to decline the vaccine. Burnett explained that she has contacted state representatives to inquire about the vaccine delivery numbers. Keilers encouraged citizens to contact elected state representatives requesting more vaccines be delivered to Sutton County.

Keilers finished the presentation of the report noting many improvements to the facility over the past year such as improvement housekeeping methods to combat COVID-19, improvements to the pharmacy, upgrades to the IT systems and multiple maintenance related items completed.

There are also several specialists that now have LMH on the schedule. Orthopedics visits twice a week, Cardiology three Thursdays each month, Neurology once a month, Urology once a month and Bryant Hearing once a month.

After approving several updated policies the board heard from Lance Talbott, LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor) and Director of Behavioral Health requested approval from the board to submit an application for a grant from the San Angelo Area Wide Health Foundation. This grant money would be used to purchase a van and to cover costs associated with staffing for the Behavioral Health facility. The board approved this request.

The board then entered closed session in which they conducted an interview of the second candidate for the CEO position. After a one hour and fifteen minute closed session, the board resumed the regular meeting for the discussion of the application review process.

As there was no further business on the agenda, the board adjourned. Dr. Mark Edwards, Board President presided over the meeting with Vice President Noemi Smaniego and board members Edward Earwood, Irene Dominquez, Mary Humphrey and Sharon Holman present. John Henry Strauch was absent.

The next regular meeting of the Hospital Board of Trustees will be held on Monday, March 8th at 6 p.m. at the Sutton County Civic Center.