Eureka Springs Hospital Commission set to interview CEO candidates

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

The Eureka Springs Hospital Commission has narrowed down its CEO candidates.

On Tuesday, Jan. 19, the commission met in executive session for approximately one hour to discuss the CEO candidates. When the commission returned from executive session, chairman Tyson Burden announced that the commission is ready to “move forward to the personal interview step in the CEO search process.”

“We will be undertaking that in the coming weeks,” Burden said.

Earlier at the meeting, the commission addressed its 2020 audit. Burden said the commission has used Windle & Associates for past audits and asked the commissioners if they’d like to continue working with Windle. Commissioner Michael Merry said there has been a “hold-up on the audit” with Windle in past years.

“[Windle’s] always come through for us, but sometimes it’s at the last possible minute,” Merry said. “That’s the only concern I would bring up, but yeah, I would support … Windle unless somebody has other recommendations.”

Commissioner Jean Reed asked for more information on how the audit works and commissioner Barbara Dicks said the commission has received its audits “really late” even though she sends all the information in February each year. Dicks said the commission hasn’t received the audit for 2019 yet.

“So I’m hesitant to give [Windle] 2020,” Dicks said.

A benefit of working with Windle, Dicks said, is the commission’s history with him.

“He has all our audits back from the beginning of time. When I needed one, I could go to his office and get one because we couldn’t find one for a while,” Dicks said. “It’s up to you guys what you want to do.”

Commissioner Kent Turner said it’s a complicated process to change auditors.

“Changing auditors is not just as simple as changing auditors. It will cost you more,” Turner said. “It doesn’t normally, but it could create some confusion. Right now, it doesn’t appear to me it would be a good time to change our auditor.”

Turner added, “I know [Windle]. If I have to call him, I will. It is unacceptable to be in 2021 and not have a 2019 audit. That is unacceptable.”

Burden said it sounded like everyone was fine with continuing to work with Windle and Dicks said the audit for 2020 would be a “big one” because the hospital has so many receipts.

“But after this audit, it should be a piece of cake,” Dicks said.

Dicks added that the commission would have to send the job out for bid if they chose to change the auditor. Burden said he hopes the commission receives the audit for 2019 soon.

“I don’t want to get in a position of waiting and waiting and waiting and the city council starts asking us when are we going to get the audit,” Burden said.

The commission then unanimously voted to continue working with Windle on the 2020 audit.

In other business, Turner updated the commission on his work with the finance committee. Turner said he’s concerned about the financial statements, saying the commission has “some serious issues about getting to financial statements.” The Medhost system the hospital uses is a problem, Turner said.

“At some point in time if you’re going to satisfy me, you’re going to have to do something about that,” Turner said. “We can’t continue to operate like this, because we do have significant credits that came when Allegiance was here that we need to get back from them. We have significant debts that need to be written off which are not recorded anywhere.”

Burden said Medhost is offering some training for free, with more training at an additional cost.

“To really get that ledger training, we’ll have to spend more money with them, which is kind of hard to accept,” Burden said.

Burden asked if the commission should consider that, and Turner said it depends on how much it costs.

“If it’s significant dollars, we might be better off just going to a new system,” Turner said.

Burden said the hospital’s contract with Medhost has 28 or 29 months left.

“It would be somewhat difficult — not impossible — to get out of that contract,” Burden said.

Turner said he’d look into it some more before the commission makes any decisions.

Burden announced that 25 of the hospital’s 68 employees are now considered immune to COVID-19. Burden said he’d like to increase that number in the coming months.

“Our acceptance of the vaccine was somewhat lower than what we anticipated and hopefully that will change with time as people see there are not negative reactions to the vaccine,” Burden said. “Many of us have had the vaccine and it seems to go … very well. We’ve had no major problems. I strongly encourage our employees, especially, and first responders to get the vaccine.”

The commission’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 15, at The Auditorium.

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