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Keeffe leaving KershawHealth as CNO

Posted: March 14, 2014 2:16 p.m.
Updated: March 17, 2014 5:00 a.m.

Gloria Keeffe is stepping down from her position KershawHealth’s chief nursing officer, a position she has held since 2005. Keeffe’s last day with the healthcare organization will be March 28. She joined KershawHealth in 2004 as director of surgical services and promoted to vice president and chief nursing officer one year later.

The announcement came March 11, one day after the most recent KershawHealth Board of Trustees meeting. As part of the meeting, trustees met in executive session to discuss several items, including a personnel matter described as “relating to an employment issue.” It is unknown whether or not that related to Keeffe’s announcement.

“Gloria’s accomplishments have had a huge impact not only on the quality of care here at KershawHealth but also on how efficiently that care is delivered,” KershawHealth Executive Vice President and COO/CFO Mike Bunch said in a press release.

According to KershawHealth, under Keeffe’s leadership, the healthcare organization undertook a broad range of initiatives. Among the most notable were the opening of a 24-bed short-term rehabilitation unit and introduction of a perpetual inventory system to reduce supply costs and increase efficiency. In addition, according to the press release, Keeffe led the implementation of electronic medical documentation at KershawHealth, first in surgical services and across inpatient care.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better team,” Keeffe said in the press release. “They always responded, not only with clinical excellence, but also with compassion for our patients.”

Interim CEO Terry Gunn will directly oversee the search for a new chief nursing officer.

During the March 10 board of trustees meeting, Gunn reported that KershawHealth has a verbal commitment for a full-time nurse practitioner for the Healthcare Place at Bethune. Gunn confirmed for trustees that commitment, once a contract is signed, would provide 40-hour per week coverage at Bethune. He and Board Vice Chair Dr. Tallulah Holmstrom said there would be a 6-week orientation and roll-out for the new nurse practitioner. Gunn described the choice as a “good, long-term solution” with someone who has “strong ties and roots in Bethune.”

Gunn also said that he expected to wrap up terms with TeamHealth for KershawHealth’s emergency department (ED). He said next steps would include TeamHealth making offers to existing ED physicians.

“This is really going to be a nice change in our emergency room and the way we conduct services in the ER,” Gunn said, “but I think even more importantly, we’ll roll out some new services, most notably that of a fast-track or dual-track in the ER. They know how to do it and help guide us through that. I think it’s going to be a nice addition that you will appreciate over what services we have in the emergency room.”

Gunn and trustees continued talking about the creation of a strategic plan for the healthcare organization. KershawHealth is facing a potential $32 million loss by 2018, primarily, officials say, due to the state’s continued resistance to expanding Medicaid. The strategic plan will focus on key areas in an effort to stave off those losses.

Gunn said all six “teams” working on the plan have met at least once and that feedback indicated the meetings have been “open, honest, with practical solutions” for meeting the needs of the community. Trustee Susan Outen said a draft of the plan should be available by the end of the month.

Meanwhile, Trustee Derial Ogburn announced that an ad hoc committee looking at various KershawHealth contracts is recommending that the board authorize the administration to send out a request for proposals (RFP) concerning legal services. Those services have been provided by Nexsen Pruet of Columbia since 1993. Some trustees questioned the timing of the proposal since KershawHealth is focused on various changes ranging from the strategic plan to administrative changes, including a search for a permanent CEO.

Ogburn said even if firms send back proposals, it is the board’s discretion as to when to act. Ultimately, the board voted unanimously to send out the RFP.

Gunn also reported on volumes. He said there is a “dichotomy” between the fact that, in February, total admissions were 2 percent below February 2013’s, but that the number of observation patients treated at KershawHealth had risen 33 percent since February 2013. He said March’s numbers appear to be tracking in the same directions.

Gunn also said that ED visits are down 12 percent from a year ago, but that the number of admissions from the ED is up 32 percent from February 2013. It’s a trend he said “doesn’t seem to make sense,” but also shows the importance of improving services in the ED. In another pairing of statistics, Gunn reported that inpatient surgeries are down 8 percent from a year ago while outpatient surgeries are up by the same percentage.

He said the administration will analyze the statistics further in time for the board’s next meeting on March 24.

Also during the March 10 meeting, board members voted 5-3 to return to a once a month meeting schedule. For several months, the board has met twice a month in order to consider financial matters separately. The return to the former schedule will begin with the board’s April meeting.

In addition to the employee matter, the board also used its executive session to review feasibility, planning and marketing, evaluation and other materials containing references to competitive information or evaluations; a contractual matter regarding general surgery; and three legal reviews.

In other business:

• Holmstrom reported, in conjunction with National Patient Safety Week, that KershawHealth’s overall discharge information composite score for patient experience is rising, with two of three factors exceeding a goal score of 90. The score measures how well KershawHealth is providing the most appropriate care at the most appropriate time. She also said that a “huge advance” has been made in terms of supporting patient safety by implementing bedside medication verification arm bands and wands. Patients wear the bands, which are read by wands, making sure the right patients are getting the right medication at the right dosage and at the right times.

• Due to a miscommunication, the Mad Monkey marketing firm did not come to interview trustees ahead of the March 10 meeting. Instead, they were scheduled to meet with trustees individually during the week. The firm did, however, attend the most recent KershawHealth Board of Visitors meeting. According to Trustee Bobby Jones, attendees peppered the firm with many questions, taking away a lot of information.

• Chair Karen Eckford reported that the board executive committee authorized the administration to enter into a contract with Clifton Larson Allen LLP to act as a consulting firm. Bunch said the firm has already made an “enormous data request” and will assist in aligning staff levels and functions to services KershawHealth provides.

• Eckford also reported that Trustee Wayne Tidwell agreed to step down from the board’s audit committee due to the fact that he is married to an employee of a physician at a KershawHealth practice. Boland will replace him. Eckford also reported that Trustee Paul Napper will continue to serve on the committee despite his being the executive director of The ALPHA Center, which maintains a contract for employee services with KershawHealth. Eckford said she determined that there was not enough of a conflict of interest, financially, to warrant Napper’s stepping down from the committee. She also described the situation as a “mistake” on her part, saying that she either forgot or did not realize Tidwell and Napper’s respective relationships in terms of their initial assignments to the audit committee.

(The last paragraph has been corrected to properly state the nature of Trustee Wayne Tidwell's wife's employment. Originally, and based on a misunderstanding of what was meant by a statement made during the KershawHealth board meeting, the C-I stated that Mr. Tidwell's wife is a physician.)

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