By Deb Murphy
If you live in the Highlands/Meadowcreek area and are willing to work your butt off for your community, the Northern Inyo Healthcare District has a job for you.
With the resignation of Phil Hartz, the at-large board member for the district, the process of filling his position has begun.
“We’re sad to see Phil leave,” said district CEO Dr. Kevin Flanigan . “We’re appreciative of his time and energy. His constituents were well-served.” Hartz tendered his resignation in mid-October. He’ll be leaving the area for family reasons, Flanigan said.
According to state law, the board slot will be filled by appointment within 60 days of the opening followed by an election no less than 130 days from the vacancy. Flanigan said that put the election in March or June.
In perhaps the understatement of the year, Flanigan said “this is an exciting time to get in at the governance level.” Whether the Affordable Care Act or something else prevails at the federal level, NIH is looking for a director “with a passion for people and the preservation of local health care,” Flanigan said.
He admits the learning curve is steep and the work load hefty, but unlike private hospitals with directors appointed by skill set, the primary qualification for a potential board member willing to take on the challenge is simply the knowledge of what is needed for those he or she represents. The rest is learnable.
The primary responsibility of board members is to function as visionaries, setting the strategy and direction the district should go and assessing if it’s reaching those goals, Flanigan said. “This is a unique opportunity to positively impact health care in the community for years to come.”
So what does healthcare look like now? Flanigan gave us the answer in understandable terms.
Years ago, health care was transactional, he explained. You went to the hospital, got billed and either your insurance company or the state picked up the tab. “There was no tie to the quality of care or the outcome,” he said. The ACA changed the emphasis to prevention and maintenance with an incentive to keep people out of the hospital. If a heart patient had multiple hospital stays, the district would be paid less than if that same patient were treated and stayed out of the hospital.
Unfortunately, Flanigan said, hospitals can’t just flip a switch to transition from a transactional system to one based on prevention and maintenance.
“We don’t know what the system will look like in the future,” Flanigan said. “The district’s solution is to do what the community needs.” No matter what Congress does, or doesn’t do, NIH can adjust accordingly.
Those interested in filling the position should contact Sandy Blumberg at 760-873-2838.