MINUTES- SPECIAL TOWN MEETING-OCTOBER 18, 2014
Meeting called to order at 10am by Clerk Fran Levings. She said the voters were notified of the meeting by a legal notice in the Pine County Courier, by postings on both the bulletin board and the notice board and by calls made to the voters of the township. She explained that, by law, the only topic to be discussed at this meeting was to discuss and possibly decide on whether or not the township should join the North Pine Area Hospital District.
Ed Carlin was elected as moderator.
Motion by Dave Baker, second by Dave Fornengo, to approve the Agenda. Carried.
Ron Osladil, chair of the North Pine Area Hospital District, and Micheal Hedrix, administrator of Pine Medical Center, presented handouts, spoke about the operations of the District. Their presentation included information on the purpose of the district, the levy, capital spending, services provided and the economic impact of the NPAHD. Each township in the District has one representative on the District’s Board. The District Board will decide what happens to the Gateway Clinic, whether to set up an Assisted-Living program and nursing home issues. Mr. Osladil also spoke about the detachment issue. He thinks that Hinckley City and Arlone Township were dissatisfied with the dysfunction of the District a few years ago. He said the District has improved since then.
Don Eddy said that emergency services to our township is lacking in that the ambulance response time is too long. It worked better when the ambulance could come across state lines from Danbury.
Mr. Hedrix responded that he would look at this issue.
Fran Levings said we are a primarily a senior community and there is a lot of concern about ambulances taking too long to get here.
Mr. Hedrix said many of our residents are using services provided by the hospital, clinic and nursing home in Sandstone.
Dave Fornengo pointed out that the District is involved in providing a health-care campus that could include the Gateway Clinic, Vision-Pro, etc.
Don Eddy asked if ambulance service could also be under this umbrella?
Mr. Hedrix replied that he definitely see ambulance service as part of the bigger picture.
Robin Fornengo expressed a need for home health-care service in our community.
Mr. Hedrix responded that the Pine Medical Center is not licensed for this service and that St. Mary’s Hospital in Duluth dropped this service 8 years ago.
Beverly Carlin said they get home health-care services coming from Blaine, MN.
Don Eddy pointed out that many home health-care organizations are privately-run.
Deloris Schirmer commented that she now gets medical treatment in Webster because of a bad experience at Gateway Clinic.
Fran Levings said she was impressed with learning that some doctors at the Gateway Clinic took their jobs in order to reduce college loans, but have deciding to stay after the loan period ended because they enjoyed the quality of life in this rural area.
Dave Baker commented that he has always gotten good medical care at the Gateway Clinic.
Mr. Hedrix pointed out that all of the emergency room physicians are now Board certified and are rotated out of Essentia Health in Duluth. The Sandstone Hospital is also now “stroke-ready”.
Robin Fornengo said she is very pleased with the care her mother receives at the Sandstone Hospital.
Mr. Osladil said that a stigma still exists about both the quality of care of the hospital and the District from a few years ago, but conditions have improved a lot since then.
Mr. Hedrix offered a tour of the hospital to any of our residents.
Dave Fornengo said if the township were to become a member of the District, we would have a representative on their Board who would attend meetings and report back to the Board.
Mr. Osladil explained that both the Hospital District Board and the Hospital Board cooperate in every way- the 2 Boards work together.
Jan Streiff asked who sets the levy and for an explanation for the red figures on the Balance Sheet.
Mr. Hedrix said if all of the figures are added up, the District is in the black. Essentia Health pays rent to the District for the use of the hospital building. The District operates like a business and reports back to its members. He also said that hospital bonding has nothing to do with the District.
Dave Baker inquired as to what are the advantages of joining the District.
Mr. Hedrix replied that the advantage to the District is that if they get new members, all members pay less.
Mr. Osladil said that he sees 2 advantages to the township- (1) a voice at the table (2) an opportunity to maintain the quality of care.
Don Eddy asked the group if they saw any disadvantages.
No one responded.
Dave Fornengo said the District Board is comparable to the Town Board-local citizens have a say in what the Board decides.
Jan Streiff asked if there was a hurry decide because once in, it is hard to get out.
Dave Baker responded that if the Hospital District itself decides to dissolve, they could and all members would be out.
Don Eddy made a motion to vote on the resolution to join the North Pine Area Hospital District. Motion seconded by Robin Fornengo. Carried.
Moderator Ed Carlin called for a “show of hands” vote- Seven electors voted to join the Hospital District and 2 electors voted to not join the Hospital District.
Motion by Beverly Carlin, second by Deloris Schirmer, to adjourn the meeting.
Meeting adjourned at 11:29am.
Fran Levings, Clerk
Also signed by the Moderator _______________________________