By Echo Menges
A large crowd of spectators packed the Scotland County Hospital District Board of Directors regular monthly meeting held Tuesday, August 30, 2022, which was held at the hospital meeting room. Including board members and hospital staff, roughly 100 people attended the meeting, which was also live streamed on the NEMOnews and KMEM 100.5 FM Facebook pages.
Many of the attendees gathered at the meeting to show support for newly hired hospital Chief Executive Officer Dr. Meagan Weber and Chief Operating Officer Brent Peirick, which was made apparent when the crowd began applauding as the two hospital administrators entered the meeting room ahead of the official start of the meeting. The crowd continued to applaud at various times throughout the entire pubic portion of the meeting.
The meeting was called to order by board president Lori Fulk at approximately 5:30 p.m. Fulk’s first order of business was to read a prepared statement to the crowd.
“I would call the meeting to order, and before I go any further into the meeting, I think I would like to open with a statement,” said Lori Fulk at the beginning of the meeting.
SCH BOD President Lori Fulk’s Statement
First of all, I’d like to thank all of you for coming this evening. We always appreciate people being out there to look at, so thank you for coming. And we do thank you for your support and being here this evening.
We always appreciate the community being here for our leadership, for our board of directors. We do know how important this hospital is to you our community. We are here to raise these employees and our staff up so that we can move forward for the future of our hospital.
We understand the past couple of weeks have raised questions. We would like to answer those questions as much as we can with your understanding there are some items that we simply can’t discuss due to legal and ethical responsibilities.
The first item to discuss with you would be the meeting held on August the fifteenth in which I made a good faith effort to follow the bylaws after being presented information showing some irregular financial irregularities.
Board members, as members of the community, and the oath that we have taken have a duty of loyalty and a duty of care to act in the best interest of this hospital.
Please know that any and all actions taken were in good faith and in line with these obligations.
The board will address this information and your concerns later this evening.
We want to ensure the public that the steps necessary are being taken to protect this facility.
We have self-reported and the FBI has recommended a forensic audit.
Our leadership team has worked hard and I am confident that they will take all the steps forward in a positive way for our patients, for our staff, and for this community.
We thank you for your continued support, and please know how very very much we appreciate each and every one of you.
Please be patient and we will try to be as transparent as we can. We promise we will get you the information as we know it, and as soon as we are able. And we hope you understand, so I thank you for that, and again we thank you for being here this evening.
The board approved the agenda and closed session agenda, before allowing public comment.
Three members of the public signed up to address the board and were asked to try to limit their comment time times to five minutes.
Jesse Zeiset was the first citizen to address the board.
“My father-in-law and my dad were both on the Mennonite Medical Committee, and it’s always been an interest to me,” Jesse Zeiset told the SCH BOD. “I often felt like that us as Mennonites and I should be getting more involved in the community and doing more. And the hospital is something that’s beneficial to everybody. That’d be a good area to get involved. It’s been about three years ago I thought, well maybe it doesn’t hurt to go to some board meetings. I had attended a few of them. I guess I was kind of disappointed with the leadership that we had. I came away from the board meeting feeling the things I saw – I had decided that the only way the hospital is going to succeed is if they get new leadership. That was my opinion about three years ago. Because what I’ve seen is it seemed there wasn’t a lot of respect for others, and I know what it’s like to work under poor leadership, and it kills morale, which moral kills quality of care. And I guess I have friends that used to come here, and now they go to Kirksville. To drive an hour and pay more just because of quality of care. And I feel it all comes down to leadership.”
Zeiset went on to thank the board members who voted for the change in leadership and give his support for new CEO Weber and her ability to “bring people together”.
The second community member to address the board was Jennifer McMinn. McMinn moved to the front of the room to better address the crowd and introduced herself as a 24-year veteran staff member as an occupational and physical therapist at the hospital. McMinn also told the attendees she was representing a Facebook group she started to support the changes at the hospital.
McMinn began her comments by thanking the board “for doing what you did” and talking about a petition she and others circulated throughout the community.
“In this support for Scotland County Hospital, I developed a Facebook message group and sent it out to people that I just knew that was kind of on the same thinking that I am, and I had people sign a petition. I’ll read the petition first. It says by signing below I attest that I support the new leadership team at Scotland County Hospital consisting of Megan Weber CEO and Brent Peirick COO. I attest that Scotland County Hospital Board did the right thing by electing these newly appointed positions to Mrs. Weber and Mr. Peirick. I firmly object to returning Dr. Tober to any or all of his previously held offices or any and all duties along with objecting to hire him in any capacity at Scotland County Hospital. By signing below, I expect the Scotland County Hospital Board to uphold and listen to their community who have voted them in expecting that they do what is in the best interest for Scotland County Hospital and the surrounding counties. With this, I have gathered in 48-hours, me and another person and a few others, 355 signatures,” said Jennifer McMinn before being interrupted by a round of applause from some in the crowd of attendees.
McMinn continued, “So some might say it’s a coup that a few people are against what’s happened but I think if you look at the numbers and look at the community here, 355 signatures in 48-hours speaks volumes.”
McMinn went on to thank Weber and Fulk for a staff “town hall” meeting held at the hospital to quickly announce the change of leadership shedding light to the public about what was happening inside of the hospital following the recent hospital staff changes.
“I do want to say those that aren’t employees that weren’t there at the employee town hall. As soon as Mrs. Fulk announced that Dr. Tober was terminated there was a round of applause, and the round of applause went four or five times during that meeting. The other thing that I would like to say is walking out of this, out of that town hall meeting that day, there were people skipping down the halls. There were people laughing at the nurses’ station. There were people that usually you would meet in the hallway that say, hey, how’s your day, can I help you – the morale was just totally a different place. Unless you were an employee here seeing the ins and outs every day, working through COVID, asking us to fill our buckets more, not getting pay raises – you probably don’t understand everything that been through. And that’s why I hope I’m presenting that well for every employee that feels the same way. And not every employee I’m saying. Not every employee does feel that way but if they were honest, a majority of them would say that. And we have lots of names on this list that have signed it,” said McMinn.
McMinn also told the attendees she previously worked under Weber for ten years in the therapy department, and she supports Weber’s promotion.
“(Meagan Weber) jumped right into that role (as the therapy department supervisor) and she led us through. She uplifted us. She supported us. She told us that we could do it. And we kept treating our patients just like we always have. And many of you in this room have been patients of ours, and you know how caring and what a great big heart Megan has,” said McMinn before attendees gave the speaker another round of applause.
McMinn continued her address to the attendees by giving her support for recent attempts by Weber and Peirick to attract the Mennonite community to utilize the hospital more and for making efforts to determine the Mennonite communities needs.
McMinn went on by pointing out specific things she was not happy with concerning past hospital leadership.
“One of the things that Dr. Tobler has done is telling us that we aren’t making any money and that we’re in financial trouble. We have to work harder. We have to fill our buckets more. We have to cut our hours but then we have Stroudwater (a consulting firm) come in and say that financials don’t look nearly as bad as he said it was,” McMinn said.
McMinn went on to tell the attendees it was not “community-minded” to make the decisions to move billing and housekeeping offsite, and to “break ties with the ambulance district” concluding her address by talking about the pharmacy.
“Ask how much money the hospital could have made hand-over-fist in the years leading up to all this when they tried to do contracts, and Matt (McKee) was turned down and Tina (McKee) was turned down. I’m talking millions of dollars because Tobler wouldn’t sign a contract with Scotland County Pharmacy. So in conclusion, I would like to ask the board and really look to what is best for our future, to look at the track record for the past seven years and how the employee morale and the community morale has been. And I think you can attest to seeing 355 signatures that it wasn’t a good thing. And do what is right and keep Meagan and Brent as our new leadership and let’s move forward in a positive way and building SCH back stronger than ever under a homegrown CEO,” said McMinn before ending to a round of applause from the crowd.
The final public comment was given by community member and SCH employee Krissy Siegfried who also went to the front of the room to better address the attendees. Siegfried introduced herself as a registered nurse on staff at SCH for 17 years.
“I wanted to discuss with everybody from a nurse’s perspective here at Scotland County about the closure of Memphis Community Pharmacy and about our contract negotiation with Scotland County Pharmacies. I realized looking at some of the Facebook posts there were patients that were upset about the Memphis Community Pharmacy closure. Although it is unfortunate, I do feel confident that it’s going to provide our community and our patients with many resources to obtain the high-priced drugs that they need that are life-saving. From a nurse’s perspective, there were many times in my cardiac rehab program that our patients cannot afford their cardiac medication and we have many patients that have multiple risk factors for heart disease and that’s what leads them to coming into contact with me,” Krissy Siegfried told the attendees.
Siegfried gave an example by discussing a drug called Eliquis.
“It could save their life literally by taking two pills a day from a fatal stroke or debilitating stroke. This medication was available on the Memphis Community Pharmacy 340b program, however, it was around $200 per month, which is still very pricey for many patients on a fixed income. I started hearing rumors about patients leaving Memphis Medical Services because Memphis Medical Services was only contracted with Memphis Community Pharmacy,” said Siegfried.
Siegfried went on to tell the attendees that the same drug was being administered for a lower price, only $52, at other pharmacies and some patients were leaving the SCH clinics for access to more pharmacies elsewhere offering lower drug prices.
“Not just Scotland County Pharmacy. They contract with Knox County Pharmacy. They contract with numerous pharmacies in Kirksville, and these 340b pharmacies were offering Eliquis through these other clinics at $52 per month instead of $200 per month. So I could understand why patients would be reasonable in leaving and seeking care elsewhere – to be able to obtain their life-saving drugs that they need every day,” said Siegfreid.
When Siegfreid concluded her address the crowd of spectators offered another round of applause.
The full SCH BOD meeting lasted approximately one hour and was well documented via video recordings. The full meeting video can be found online on the NEMOnews and Memphis Democrat Facebook pages. A separate meeting video has also been uploaded to YouTube. The link to the YouTube video will be made available on memphisdemocrat.com this week.