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Sunshine Clinic Board Hears Continuing Patient Concerns, and Mentions Interim Medical Director

by Phillip Manning ~ August 28th, 2013

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The Sunshine Community Health Center Board of Directors held its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday evening at the Willow Clinic.  While it was not attended by as many community members as July’s meeting, which was moved to the Assembly of God Church to accommodate the anticipated turnout, approximately twenty community members attended, and fifteen spoke to the Board.   The community members who addressed the Board were nearly unanimous in their message that Clinic Executive Director David Bryant should be dismissed or placed on leave of absence.  This call for Bryant’s dismissal has been ongoing for nearly two months, since it was learned that the contract of former Medical Director, Dr. Mary Loeb, would not be renewed.

Many speakers at the meeting expressed concern over a lack of communication of Bryant’s status.  Last week, the Board of Directors placed an announcement on KTNA asking for the community’s patience as they consulted with organizations such as the Foraker Group, the Alaska Primary Care Association, and the Health Resources and Services administration, or HRSA.  Last week, Board President Tom Phillips told KTNA that the Foraker Group had conducted an independent evaluation of Executive Director Bryant and that Bryant had been presented with a set of options on how to proceed by the Board.  The nature of those options, and Bryant’s decision regarding them has not been disclosed. Phillips said in a previous interview that legal counsel has been consulted regarding what information should be released to the public.

“We do have a toolbox.  It has stuff in it.  We have to use it….That’s all I can tell you right now.  We hear you loud and clear”

That’s Tom Phillips at Tuesday night’s meeting.  When asked by local realtor Holly Stinson what timeframe the Board was operating on regarding a decision on Executive Director Bryant, Phillips indicated that it was fluid.

“Every time I make a communication or get a communication, time seems to change.  I can’t control that, ma’am…not at all.  I have to go where the advice, the guidance, the tools tell me to go.  That’s what I have to do as chair.  I still have to work with eight other people on the Board as well as the tools in the toolbox.  I’m only one voice.  I’m dealing with eight other voices as well, and I hear them as well.  I have to deal with that, too.  It’s not an easy job, but it’s the job I’ve chosen to do for the Clinic.  I love the Clinic.”

After the Persons to be Heard portion of the meeting, the Board proceeded with regular business.  Among the actions taken were changes to the SCHC bylaws and policies in order to bring them in compliance with HRSA regulations.  The Clinic is scheduled to undergo a HRSA site review next month, which is tied to the Clinic’s federal funding.

As part of the Board’s business, discussion with a new interim Medical Director was mentioned. On Wednesday, Executive Director Bryant confirmed that Dr. Phil Hess will, pending mandatory background and credentialing processes, be taking over on an interim basis.  Bryant says that Dr. Hess was the Medical Director at the Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center for the last two years, and was previously the Medical Director for the community health center in Cordova.

Board Secretary Pam Robinson also requested that a motion to elect her for a new three year term be amended to extend her current term through this year’s annual Board meeting in October.  She said she will not be seeking an additional term.  This comes two weeks after former Board Vice-President Andi Manning resigned her seat on the Board.

After approving all of its listed action items, the Board entered executive session.  The next regular Board meeting is scheduled for September 24th.

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