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Seneca may go to half-time management

M. Kate West
Chester Editor

    The Seneca Healthcare District may again be looking at a change in administration, this time driven by the financial decisions made by another rural, critical access hospital.

    The potentially influencing hospital, Mayers Memorial, a district hospital in Fall River Mills, may bring about this change by entering into a management contract with Renown Hospital of Reno, Nev.

    SHD, under a similar contract with Renown, gained Chief Executive Officer Doug Self. Should Mayers Memorial decide to go to contract with Renown, it would also gain Self, on at least a half-time basis.


    The process, according to Self, began at least 90 days ago as a result of Renown’s establishing relationships with many of the Northern California and Western Nevada rural hospitals.

    “Renown is working very hard with these hospitals to ensure a smooth transition with emergency room patients from these hospitals. Renown has offered assurances and developed a program to allow for the ease of transfers and admittance,” said Self.

    He also said as the relationship developed between Renown and MMH, it became known that the district was experiencing the same financial crisis SHD had been experiencing with its struggling business office and the inability to collect cash, and with vendor contract and expense control.

    “Mayers heard about Seneca’s successes and called Renown after the first of the year,” Self said.

    Since that time, MMH has met with three different entities, Catholic Healthcare West, Renown and Prime, the parent organization of Shasta Medical Center in Redding.

    MMH, a 22 acute bed hospital facility with 99 skilled nursing beds in two facilities, has reached the point where a decision has to be made.

    “Mayers built the skilled nursing facility in Burney and financed the construction costs with Cal Mortgage. As such, there are different covenants on the table they need to meet as they make their decisions.

    “Cal Mortgage must approve both the hiring and firing of the hospital’s CEO. The MMH district board must now decide what they want and present their plan to Cal Mortgage for approval — it really adds an extra layer of uncertainty to the process,” he said.
    Proposals weighed by MMH could include either signing a management contract with Renown or the outright sale of the district’s medical facilities to one of the other entities.

    “For the Mayers’ board, this is a big decision as to whether they are bought out and lose control of the district while still receiving a large enough cash infusion to pay off the district’s debts,” said Self.

    He said the other choice was to go with a management contract that allowed for board control, but no infusion of cash.

    Should Mayers elect to go with a Renown Hospital management contract, the local impact would be the loss of a full-time CEO on the Seneca Healthcare District campus.

    Renown proposes Self, who is that firm’s employee, manage both hospitals on a 50-50 basis.

    Should Renown’s contract offer be accepted, it will require new contract negotiations with SHD as well.

    “Our board would like to see an amendment to the contract that would have quantifiable objectives to ensure our forward progress continues,” Self said.

    Part of the negotiations would include a decrease in the management fee SHD pays to Renown because of the proposed time split with MMH.

    Self said it is premature to settle upon a travel and work schedule.

    “As for whether or not the issue of change will remain on future SHD agendas is solely dependent on where MMH goes from here; it is all contingent upon their board’s decision and that of Cal Mortgage,” he said.

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