Board holds special Labor Day meeting to expedite decision, ensure continuing administrative coverage
By Jeff Moberg
The Crook County Medical Services (CCMSD) board voted Monday to accept the bid of Billings-based Health Management Services (HMS) to take over management of the district’s facilities. The board made the decision after a lengthy discussion, followed by an executive session which was called after two failed motions were made to select a management company.
As discussion began during Monday’s special meeting, Roger Jones presented his fellow board members with a comparison between the competing bids which included HMS and Casey Peterson and Associates (CP&A).
Jones pointed out that, although the specific figures from HMS were not completely clear, the cost to accept the CP&A contract would save the district between $115,000 and $175,000 during the first year. Jones said HMS’s estimated cost was either $365,000 or $305,000 per year, depending on whether they based their fee on gross revenue or adjusted it for contract and write-down expenses.
Pointing out that HMS’s presentation documents show their experience has largely been based in nursing facilities and not necessarily hospitals, Jones added that he felt CP&A’s track record was a bit more clear and suited to Crook County’s needs. Jones expressed additional concerns over the HMS concept that the facility’s administrator would be HMS’s employee and that CCMSD would not have a clear line of control over the position. He added that he preferred the CP&A proposal which would provide an immediate, permanent administrator in conjunction with a mentor for both he and the board. The administrator would be a CCMSD employee and CP&A would operate largely from a consulting position.
Judy Hutchinson argued Jones’s points, noting that the proposed administrator put forward by CP&A has a very limited experience level and expressed her concerns that the situation here would require someone with a deeper background. She added that she didn’t want to see CCMSD be a training area for an administrator.
Sandy Neiman echoed Hutchinson’s concerns and suggested that HMS’s plan would allow CCMSD to be part of the administrator selection and would allow the board a number of potential choices for the position. Neiman added that if the board had concerns over the administrator’s actions, she felt they would be able to address them through HMS easily enough.
As the discussion reached an end, Hutchinson offered a motion to accept HMS’s contract but, none of the other board members offered a second to Hutchinson’s motion.
Jones then made a motion to accept CP&A’s contract and again, none of the other board members offered a second, leaving that motion to fail as well.
Hutchinson then suggested going back to an executive session to hash out the decision in private. Jones objected to the idea, noting it was not an appropriate use of an executive session.
Eventually, Judy Bettmann offered a second to Hutchinson’s motion and the remaining members – aside from Jones – voted to take the discussion to an executive session.
When the board returned, Hutchinson once again offered a motion to accept the HMS contract but this time with the caveat “in hopes” that Mark Lyons (CP&A) would continue to work the district. The motion passed with Jones as the lone dissenting vote.