With newly elected trustees sitting at the table, the Sutton County Hospital District Board of Directors met Monday night, November 9, and handled a variety of business items related to the governing of the community’s hospital district.

At the start of the meeting, the board heard visitor comments. County Judge Steve Smith was first to speak. He told board members that a recent outbreak of COVID-19 among hospital employees has forced the need for an executive order requiring everyone to wear a face mask when in public.
Smith said he was contacted by Dr. Rachel Sonne, Regional Medical Director (RMD) for Public Health Region 9/10, who informed him of an outbreak of COVID-19 among employees of Lillian M. Hudspeth Hospital. Smith said the surge caused the county to exceed the 30 active case limit set by the state. Therefore, he has issued an order for everyone to wear a face mask when in public.

“I wanted to make y’all aware that you are going to have to wear masks,” Smith said. “I am hoping people will at least try to be kind to other people and wear a mask. It’s tough to be kind. I urge you to be kind.”

Smith added that his research shows that counties that chose the mask requirement have half the rate of positive cases than counties without a mask requirement.

“There is some clinical proof that wearing a mask works,” he added.

As for the board itself, Smith reminded the members that there is still a need to find a permanent hospital administrator. With that, he said it will take unity to make that happen.

“There are things that we need to do as a town, a community and a hospital board to be able to get someone to come in. We need to encourage folks to apply and that means we need our business in order. Y’all need to get along. You need to play nice. We love our hospital and we want you to get things worked out,” Smith said.

Brigitte Rogers, Board Member Mary Humphrey and Adelita Alvarez also spoke. Rogers said she hopes that officials will do a better job in the future of vetting individuals who file to run for the hospital board.

Humphrey and Alvarez welcomed new board members, thanked them for their commitment to the future of the hospital district and gave their assurance that they will continue to serve in the best interest of the hospital district.

Following visitor comments, the board canvassed the election results by voting in favor of the November 3 voting totals as presented.

With their right hand raised, newly elected trustees were sworn in. New board members were also provided information to sign up and complete the Texas Open Meetings Act training as required before moving on to regular business matters.

Trustees then approved the minutes of the October 12, 2020 regular meeting, changes to the signature cards at Sonora Bank, the financial report ending September 30, 2020 and expenditures for October 2020 and first year provisional consulting staff as presented.

They then approved policy and procedures for blood borne pathogen exposure plan, blood spills clean up, occupied patient room cleaning, managing and disposing of biohazard waste, infection prevention and control admitting, registration of patients with known multi-drug-resistant organisms, computer keyboard infection control, infection prevention and control cardiac rehab as presented.

In his report, Interim Hospital Administrator Lance Keilers noted that there will be a hospice orientation at the next board meeting and internet security upgrades are in place after conducting a phishing trial.

Keilers also talked about the need for transparency with the county regarding the actvities of the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) such as the number of runs and types of responses they make each month. Going forward a quarterly report with that information will be provided to the commissioners, he said.

He also requested a review of the board secretary’s replacement be added to the agenda for the December meeting. Due to the current COVID-19 situation, Keilers recommended limiting the December collaborative meeting between members of the hospital, ranch and health foundation board of directors to just the members and no meal. Board President Mark Edwards suggested having one representative from each board. Board Member Sharon Holman and Mary Humphrey suggested not limiting board member participation. Instead allowing board members to decide for themselves if they want to attend. Each of the trustees also received a copy of the Texas Health Care Trustee Guidebook and was asked to familiarize themselves with their responsibilities as a hospital district trustee.

Keilers also talked about marketing efforts to promote services including 3D Mammography, Home Health and Hospice and Behavioral Health.
Giving the floor to EMS Director TJ Thorp and Chief Nursing Officer Hilary Galindo, Keilers asked them to talk about new capital equipment purchases. As an aside, it was noted that cardiologist Dr. Michael Blanc will no longer be a provider with Shannon Medical Center in San Angelo impacting those services and patients in Sutton County as well.

Wrapping up his report, Keilers introduced a list of suggestions for the board to consider. These include procedures, decorum and conduct for board members and meetings to be considered for adoption at the December meeting. Keilers said it would be in the best interest of the board to “undo” the board rules established in 2018 when Mark Edwards took over as Board President. As well, he asked the board to consider a town hall meeting to allow constructive conversation between trustees and members of the community.

Finally, Keilers spoke about potential recruitments for the position of hospital administrator.

He told board members to work towards positive round tables while moving forward with phone interviews.

“The hospital is only going to be as successful as the board is united,” Keilers said. “Do what is right for the hospital and look for who has a heart for growing the hospital.”

Ending on that note, the meeting was adjourned.

Board President Mark Edwards presided over the meeting. Board Members, Edward Earwood, Mary Humphrey, Irene Dominguez, John Henry Strauch, Noemi Samaniego and Sharon Holman were present.

The Sutton County Hospital Board of Directors usually meets in the second Monday of each month. Meeting dates are subject to change. The public is welcome to attend all public meetings.