Concerns with Hospital Survey

Dear Editor,

I am writing you with concern having taken the hospital’s survey. It’s clear by the survey that the board wants to look into a new building while this one is quite serviceable. We have CT scan, X-ray, labs, ER, portable MRI, surgery services and the list goes on.

They cannot seem to keep a good doctor here; most of them leave within a year. The doctors that we’ve had for our lives are old, tired, and the most active is still semi-retired. Most all who have come after have left. Harrison is in town; do they have privileges at the hospital? If not, why?

This district has made horrible decisions that cost big amounts of money; for instance a clinic medical record software that couldn’t talk with the hospital software, the hospital software itself, and then a newer version of the hospital software for the clinic that still didn’t communicate well without a “bridge” that was an additional cost.

Surprisingly, a uniform system like most every other hospital/clinic set up in the country would have been the fiscally responsible move but instead they spend a dollar to save a dime.

That time was an illusion and the dollar was in each software change, bridge and the countless man-hours spent moving charts manually from one system to another (something the comes with a risk of error IE: transposing numbers, dosages, selecting 2.5 instead of .25, and other input errors that are seen in data entry all of the time in the computer world and also adding to the stress of the doctors, nurses and assistants who already had overbooked days before the change).

This risk could have been reduced or eliminated however; patient safety would have cost that proverbial dollar and dime so the board abdicated; the line had to be drawn somewhere, paying to transfer from one clinic software to another was deemed too much and didn’t happen.

We have locum tenens (these temporary doctors all cost incredible amounts of money and the more rural you are the more the cost) as well as a revolving door of general practice doctors. I’m also interested in the specialists; for instance, the internists over the last few years. One couldn’t ever get into see them however I bet they were still paid an incredible salary.

These are things that the board hides from you (pay, patient volume to provider, reasons doctors are dismissed or tender resignation, etc.) but given the ongoing mismanagement we need to force transparency or things won’t ever change, people will only guess and fight with each other over the guesses instead of against the people causing the harm.

The clinic has seen many administrators yet no changes. The hospital administrators change; the last one was about run out of town and still no changes. Only one thing stays mostly the same and that’s the board. Surely I’m not the only person to question the board’s abilities here; the two new seats had to have a reason to be voted in.

Our tax dollars are helping keep this hospital district alive and they’re feeling the waters to ask us for more. This is a serious issue demands not only transparency but actual change and action from the voters if that change doesn’t come. We need to know the whole truth; if everything is to be done in “closed session,” I recommend that we close the money, vote down all levies and vote the board out!

I don’t know how optimistic I am regarding the two new chairs; I believe the current board has weight on the selection and you can’t imagine that they’re going to pick someone who’s not similarly minded on the issues.

The fate of everyone who is and who may become sick as well as the pockets of every taxpayer hangs in the balance here. The problem is clearly in the board of the hospital district; everyone else has gone. I hope that as a community we can come together and force the board to openly work for us all; otherwise, I hope that we can be strong enough to block as much money as we can and to vote for change that will make this hospital and our doctors’ offices great again! A new building isn’t the answer, the answer is a new mindset.

Markus von Kessler


Editor’s note: I asked the hospital’s CEO Tim Cournyer to respond to the concerns raised in this letter, his letter follows.

Dear Editor,

It was with great interest that I read the comments from a concerned citizen regarding our hospital and I would like to respond. I should probably introduce myself, my name is Tim Cournyer and I am the Chief Executive Officer at the hospital. I was hired as the Chief Financial Officer in March of 2015 and became the Chief Executive Officer on Sept. 28, 2015, after the board terminated the contract of the previous CEO.

Yes, that was a tough time for the hospital, but I believe things have improved dramatically over the last year. One of the major concerns of the board was the revolving door of providers in our clinics and one of my first tasks was to address that issue. Working with our new clinic administrator and many others, we have been able to recruit a great group of providers that we believe we will be here for a number of years. This also eliminated the use of locums which as Mr. Von Kessler referred to in his letter.

Mr. Von Kessler also mentioned the community survey and I would like to explain the purpose of the survey. A duty of the board is to set a strategic plan for the hospital. This plan sets the direction and goals of the hospital for a set amount of years in the future. The community survey was our way of asking the community for input on a number of issues pertaining to the hospital so when we set the direction and goals of the hospital that we are considering the desire of the community in those decisions.

The question that Mr. Von Kessler referred to about a new building was a prime example of wanting input from the community. We do have a very old building and we are looking at some very expensive major repairs in the near future. The boiler system is old; replacement parts no longer available, the boilers are well beyond their useful life and in the near future need to be replaced. This replacement is estimated to cost the district around $2.5 million and that does not include all the piping.

This is just one example and there are many others. The question was asked to get the opinion of the community as to whether, knowing of these upcoming costs, would you would rather we continue to update this facility or would it make sense to consider building a new facility on hospital-owned property.

Regarding the hospital software system I both agree and disagree with Mr. Von Kessler’s assessment. I agree that they are expensive and implementation of the systems are costly, stressful and time-consuming,

I do not agree with his other statements. The hospital has been using Meditech for a number of years. Meditech is a very large company that has hundreds of hospitals using their system throughout the country. Meditech is a highly rated company and will continue to be a major player in hospital software solutions.

I would also say that it doesn’t matter what system you have, when you do updates there will be issues that you need to work through and we are in that process. The bright side, hospital-wide we have a wonderful group of hard working employees which makes this process easier.

In closing, I would like to say that I have the utmost respect for our board. Our board members are very dedicated to the hospital and community. Their desire as is mine and all of our staff is to assure that we provide great customer service, high-quality, affordable health care to the community while remaining financially viable. I believe that we have the right people sitting on the board to make that happen.


Tim Cournyer

Forks Community Hospital CEO