Toiyabe Indian Health Project Board of Directors receives help from Rural Indian Health Board
At the Friday, November 3 meeting of the Toiyabe Indian Health Project (TIHP) Board of Directors, the Board appeared to be making significant progress towards making amends after months of self-inflicted turmoil.
Under the interim management of the California Rural Indian Health Board (CRIHB), the Toiyabe Indian Health Project appears to have convinced several medical staff and others that had resigned over the firing of the former CEO, David Lent, to return to work at the Bishop Clinic.
It was announced on Friday that the acting/interim CEO Matthew Waggoner, who is the Human Resources Director with CRIHB on temporary loan to TIHP, would continue working at the clinic. Also, two members of the top medical staff, Chief Medical Director Nancy Fong and Dr. Thomas Boo, have agreed to stay with the clinic. Both had submitted their resignations upon the firing of Lent on September 26. CRIHB’s CEO Mark LeBeau expressed excitement at the renewed stability of the clinic at Friday’s meeting.
There was some discussion during the meeting of a letter from the Bridgeport Indian Colony which requested the Board reinstate former TIHB Board Chairman John Glazier. Several members felt that Glazier should be allowed to return and represent his tribe, especially considering that he is the Tribal Chairman in Bridgeport. The Board members representing the Bishop, Big Pine, Benton, and Death Valley Tribes who were behind the ousting of Lent and three of his administrators objected, stating that another Board member had previously been voted off for violating Board policy and she had not been allowed to return.
The actions taken against Glazier and the Board’s refusal to allow his return prompted a discussion about whether a current TIHP member tribe (i.e. Bridgeport) can leave the Project’s Board of Directors and become associated with another Indian health consortium in Nevada.
Additionally, there was discussion about whether Bridgeport Tribal members could still receive TIHP medical services if the Tribe chose to do this. The answer appeared to be “Yes” and “Yes.” CRIBH CEO LeBeau told the Board that the Bridgeport Tribe could continue to receive services and could choose to leave TIHP if it so desires.
For at least the third month in a row, there was no financial report given to the Board at its meeting. TIHP, with CRIBH’s assistance, is still trying to fill the project’s Chief Financial Officer position. When Southern Inyo Hospital was forced to close and undergo bankruptcy procedures in 2015, a chief factor in the District’s financial unrest was the Board of Directors’ lack of access to official financial reports. SIH Board members had no idea of what the true financial status of SIH was. Apparently, neither does the TIHP board.
The Board also heard from their Bank of America financial advisors, Blake Godering and Timm Eckhardt. The news here was positive. More employees are participating in the 401(k) matching and profit-sharing programs. Reserves have increased from $5.3 million to $6.6 million over the past two years.