FOX 9’s Adam Klepp attended the over four hour public forum and discusses the community’s biggest concerns
YUMA, Ariz. (KECY, KYMA) – Hundreds of residents showed up for Tuesday night’s hospital district board meeting, which lasted more than four hours.
Community members touched on a variety of topics, from district council tax and paused construction projects, to their overall experience of caring at YRMC.
Most agreed on one thing, the desire that the YRMC Board of Directors and the District Hospital Board of Directors solve their problems.
âI am really frustrated with the communication between the two boards,â said Allison Boehler, YRMC employee.
With YRMC’s decision to end a potential merger with LifePoint Health, lingering issues between hospital management and the hospital’s district board, dating back to 2019, are at the fore.
Both sides start the new year under difficult conditions.
District council member Dr Jeremy Curry maintains that YRMC leadership has excluded the district council.
âThis loss of communication is detrimental to improving care in the hospital,â said Curry.
John Sternitzke, vice chairman of the YRMC board, says the district council is needlessly blocking construction projects.
âWe need to get these projects approved, please don’t prevent us from being able to deliver this,â Sternitzke said.
YRMC is looking to expand and improve several areas of its building and general care, such as lab upgrades, which YRMC employees desperately need.
âWhen you have surgery and a tissue sample is taken, that’s how you get diagnosed with cancer. Your blood tests when you have a stroke or heart attack in our emergency room, the lab does the tests, âsaid Boehler. “If we don’t have an appropriate temperature, humidity, water supply, waste drainage, places to put new instrumentation, it’s really going to affect your care,”
District council members say they also want to improve hospital facilities.
âNow that LifePoint is finished, we need to figure this out,â said District 1 Board Chair Jeffrey Polston. âIt’s our building that is collapsing. ”
But they argue they need more up-to-date financial numbers, especially YRMC’s monthly financial reports, to make sure the hospital isn’t spending too much.
“I need the CFO to come talk to me, from accountant to accountant, and tell us how this $ 95 million, which is more than they’ve ever asked for in the history of this board, is going to be. paid, âPolston said. .
Under the terms of the current lease, YRMC must obtain District Council approval for construction projects costing over $ 500,000.
YRMC Leadership claims to have provided enough financial information to prove that they can fund the projects, in the form of annual financial reports.
“There is no correlation between [the construction projects] and all the reports they say they need to get. YRMC Board Treasurer Louie Gradias said.
Another issue raised by locals is the tax levied by the district council.
âI looked at my tax bill and thought my god I had a $ 16 hospital district tax,â community member Gary Wright said.
Ahead of Tuesday’s meeting, a YRMC board member said she didn’t know why they were being taxed.
âWe still don’t understand how it was added and what it is for. I have a feeling it just doesn’t make sense,â Dana said.
The District Hospital Council has taxation powers.
He says the tax helps pay their lawyers, representing them in a lawsuit YRMC has brought against them.
District council members say it is the first time in the council’s 50-year history that they have taxed the public.
âIn order to protect this district and protect you, we had to have a way to pay our lawyers,â Polston said.
YRMC refuses to pay because they say the invoices sent to them are blacked out.
“We told them we would pay their legal fees if they told us exactly what happened, and that’s just a good deal,” said YRMC board chairman Woody Martin.
District board chairman Polston said they were being redacted due to solicitor-client privilege.
In 2020, President Polston sent YRMC a budget proposal of $ 3 million. A substantial increase from the usual budget of $ 30,000 normally sent for administrative expenses, which YRMC has always paid for.
President Polston said that number was an estimate.
âWe had no idea of ââthe potential charge for obtaining information from YRMC that the Policies and Procedures Agreement requires,â said Polston.
He says that in early January, the district council spent about $ 700,000 in legal fees for its representation, Scottsdale-based Kutak Rock LLP, and that the public is currently being taxed on an estimate of $ 1.2 million for the ‘year.
Polston and lawyers for Kutak Rock claim that if the district council wins the case against YRMC, the public would be reimbursed for the current property tax.
“There would be a mechanism by which those taxes collected would be refunded in future tax years to members of the district,” Polston said.
The two councils have expressed their willingness to sit down and discuss their issues together.
At the moment, it is not known if or when such a meeting could take place.