ES Hospital panel votes to fire CNO, rehire as compliance officer

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

By Samantha Jones

Citizen.Editor.Eureka@gmail.com

The Eureka Springs Hospital Commission voted to terminate former Eureka Springs Hospital CEO Vicki Andert from the chief nursing officer position and rehire her as the hospital’s part-time compliance officer at a special called meeting on Thursday, Aug. 27.

The commission met in executive session for approximately 90 minutes, with chairman John House saying the executive session would cover “two different issues with respect to personnel and the actions we are going to take.” House then clarified that one of the personnel issues involved firing an employee.

After adjourning the executive session, commissioner Barbara Dicks moved to “offer the employee that we terminated the position of compliance officer on a part-time basis.” Commissioner Jean Reed clarified that the employee’s name was Vicki and the commissioners debated whether or not they could name the employee. When a reporter reminded everyone that the commission discussed moving Andert to the part-time compliance officer position at its Aug. 17 meeting, House said the public could “put two and two together.”

According to a document handed out by the commission, the compliance officer would handle risk management including infection control information, medical errors, grievances, event reports, OSHA reports, narcotic incidents, adverse med reactions and code blues. The document says the compliance officer would have monthly meetings to ensure all departments that are required to report have done so on a quarterly basis, ensuring that each department’s measures and plans of action are appropriate. The compliance officer would also provide guidance where improvement is not occurring, the document says.

During discussion, commissioner Michael Merry asked Alliance Management Group representative Darrell Parke why he’s opposed to the motion.

“What we’re dealing with is a power struggle between two entities and you just … you’re not going to have both of the entities in the hospital at the same time after this,” Parke said. “It’s just not going to work.”

Though he couldn’t vote on the issue, House expressed his opinion to the commission.

“I will go on the record saying this is a mistake,” House said.

The commission voted unanimously to approve the motion, but House wrote via text message on Friday, Aug. 28, that the vote was non-binding.

“Due to our contract with Alliance, we can neither hire nor fire employees at the hospital,” House wrote. “Only Alliance can do that. We can make suggestions, but we cannot take binding action.”

Andert announced her resignation from the CEO position on Feb. 18, 2019. She was promoted to CEO in June of 2018 after working at the hospital as a nurse for two years and director of nursing for 10 years.

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