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KH board votes to transfer executives to Capella

Trustees also hear assisted living center pitch

Posted: August 11, 2015 5:24 p.m.
Updated: August 12, 2015 1:00 a.m.

In what may be a sign the pending lease/purchase of KershawHealth by Capella Healthcare of Franklin, Tenn., is about to be finalized, the hospital’s board of trustees voted unanimously Monday on a measure which would make members of KershawHealth’s executive team Capella employees.

Following an executive session, Trustee Steve Holliday Jr. moved “to authorize the chair to negotiate any and all agreements necessary to terminate executive contracts and to facilitate the transfer of those executives over to Capella as discussed in executive session.”

Trustees did not discuss the matter further in open session nor provide a date upon which the contracts would be terminated and the executives transferred to Capella.

According to KershawHealth’s website, the four members of the hospital’s executive team are CEO Terry Gunn, Executive Vice President and COO/CFO Mike Bunch, Chief Nursing Officer Stacy Collier and Vice President of Human Resources and Support Services Compliance Officer Angela Nettles.

Also following the executive session, on a motion from Trustee Bobby Jones, the board unanimously voted to donate a mobile home previously used in Bethune for emergency management services (EMS) to the town of Bethune. The mobile home is not currently being used since EMS transferred to Kershaw County operations, which moved the Bethune EMS location. The mobile home sits on property owned by the town of Bethune.

Board Vice Chair Dr. Tallulah Holmstrom, acting as chair in Karen Eckford’s absence, confirmed the donation would take place with Capella’s consent and approval. Holmstrom also said the town would need to use the mobile home for public purposes.

Earlier, during the meeting’s open session, trustees received an offer to purchase either the piece of old Pine Tree Hill Elementary School (PTHS) property KershawHealth already owns or one of the two pieces it is planning on purchasing from the city of Camden.

Sam Levin said he and his partner are planning on building an assisted living facility in Camden and are “in control” of a piece of the old PTHS property. Levin noted KershawHealth has first right of refusal on the property he and his partner control.

“If I was a betting man, I would bet pretty hard and strong you’re going to exercise that option, and I’m at a loss,” Levin said. “So, the question for you all is -- we’re a group ready, willing and able to go, and I did not want to go to my next piece of property, if you all were going to sell a piece of it.”

Levin said his group needs 4.5 acres on which to build an assisted living center. None of the remaining old PTHS parcels -- neither the two KershawHealth is opting to purchase, nor one being retained by the city of Camden -- is 4.5 acres in size, according to online Kershaw County Assessor maps.

The one containing the old PTHS buildings, which KershawHealth already owns, is 7.02 acres. The two parcels KershawHealth is seeking to purchase are 3.26 and 4.39 acres in size, while the one the city has owned since 1994 is also 4.39 acres.

However, Levin asked if the hospital would be willing to sell one of the parcels to his group.

“We’re at a point where we really can’t slow down,” he said.

As a second option, Levin said if KershawHealth is interested in a developer, his group is committed to spending $8.5 million to build an assisted living center with 71 beds in a 40,000-square-foot facility.

“If you are interested in us participating with you, we would like to build your new skilled nursing facility for you. Meridian (Senior Living) operates quite a few and they would be interested in coming in and being your operator,” Levin said.

He said his group would even take care of the demolition of the old PTHS buildings and designing a new facility. Levin said his group has single-story and two-story designs to work from.

“I understand your reason behind exercising your option. It gives you the ability to control it, but we don’t think you need that much real estate,” Levin said, adding his group would also consider buying the 7.02-acre property KershawHealth already controls. “One way or the other, we’ll be here.”

The board thanked Levin for his presentation, but took no action.

Also during Monday’s meeting, Gunn reported on Thursday’s storm and its effects on KershawHealth.

“As you know, we had the power outage with a simultaneous lightning strike … and the gas leak,” Gunn said. “It’s unusual for any of those things to happen at one time, but for all three to happen simultaneously created quite an issue.”

He then read a response KershawHealth sent to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control following the agency’s inquiring into what happened Thursday night.

“At approximately 7:15 p.m., Duke Power lost a transmission line, causing a loss of power. Simultaneously, lightning struck the roof of the medical center, hitting an HVAC unit. At 7:20 p.m. -- five minutes later -- the administrative nursing supervisor contacted the administrator on call and the decision was made to implement our emergency operations plan, we call it ‘Code Green,’ to enact the hospital incident command system,” Gunn said. “The backup generators responded immediately, providing emergency backup power to critical areas of the hospital. No interruption of service occurred in nursing or patient care areas or patient rooms.”

Gunn went on to say, reading from the letter, systems such as medicine dispensing, documentation, patient call and telephones remained intact.

“However, at 8:30 p.m., the lights in the patient rooms on Med I were impacted. Four patients were transferred to rooms with functioning lights on the adjacent hall. In addition, lamps were obtained from offices and waiting areas and placed in the patient rooms in this hall to ensure continued lighting. So, you can imagine, everyone’s going around -- anybody who had a spare lamp sitting on their desk got confiscated and put into use that evening,” Gunn said.

He said air conditioning was also impacted in all areas of the hospital. KershawHealth staff went out and purchased “a couple of dozen” box fans from a local store and placed them in areas as needed. Gunn said temperature monitoring was performed in all procedural areas and were found to exceed recommended temperatures.

“The decision was made at that time surgical procedures would be performed on an emergency basis only and we cancelled the surgical cases closest to the next day, which was Friday,” Gunn said. “Also, our radiology CT scanner and laboratory services were impacted, but the CT scanner was fully operational at 9 p.m. and laboratory services with Palmetto Health remained in place and the lab was fully operational at approximately 7:45 p.m.”

Gunn also said the emergency department was initially on “zero diversion” when the lightning struck at 7:25 p.m., but switched to “full diversion” at approximately 8:30 p.m., which was cancelled at 9:45 p.m.

“Again, the CT scanner was down … and then with the lights out and a lot of uncertainty about the stability of everything, we elected not to take any patients into the ER for a period of time until we knew everything was safe and stable,” he said.

Gunn also reported on measures to keep food fresh and, where appropriate, cool or frozen, and how pharmacy services remained intact.

“One medication refrigerator was impacted, but those medications were immediately placed in a working refrigerator,” Gunn said. “Power was fully restored at 9:40 p.m. It was later noted that one of the four compressors on the HVAC unit was damaged from the lightning strike. In addition, there was a small gas leak, related to the HVAC vibration, which was addressed immediately.”

He said KershawHealth was in constant contact with EMS, county emergency offices, the Camden Fire Department and SCE&G, and received “exemplary service” from all the organizations. Gunn also said administrators were very pleased with the staff and their responsiveness.

“We’ve worked hard for many years to ensure we have a strong emergency response system in place and this event was an indication of those efforts,” Gunn said.

He also mentioned a follow up email from a local physician, thanking KershawHealth staff for helping them keep a particular set of vaccinations refrigerated.

“One of our staff actually met them at the door. We were able to take in those vaccinations and get them refrigerated,” Gunn said. “In addition, another physician who was there working that evening helped with the heavy lifting and (moving) those boxes of vaccinations. I just want you to understand, it was a team effort. A lot of people -- this happened at a shift change -- so, fortunately, a lot of people were able to either stay late … and pitch in and help out … with a potentially very serious situation to have three things go at one time.

“But proper planning and cool heads made it an inconvenience and not a catastrophic event.”

In response to Gunn’s report, the board unanimously voted on a motion from Trustee Derial Ogburn to officially congratulate the staff and tell them how proud the board is for their response and how thankful they are for their commitment.

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