Jeopardizing safety: Hospital commission tells Allegiance to fix structural problems

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

By Samantha Jones

Citizen.Editor.Eureka@gmail.com

Allegiance Health Management has 30 days to take care of much-needed maintenance and repairs at Eureka Springs Hospital.

The Eureka Springs Hospital Commission voted Monday night to send a letter to Allegiance advising the company to fix structural problems at the hospital within 30 days or face the consequences of violating the terms of the lease between the company and commission.

Chairman John House said a recent inspection of the hospital revealed Allegiance has not been upholding its duties to maintain and repair the facility. He said the inspection was carried out by Dick Titus and Curtis Shaw, who both have experience in hospital maintenance.

"They came up with a multi-page document that showed quite a few areas in which the building itself has some problems," House said. "Some of those problems are things that are grandfathered in because the building was built in 1927. There are other things that are jeopardizing patient safety."

House said he has already spoken with the commission's attorney and presented a letter telling Allegiance to uphold the terms of the lease. If Allegiance doesn't fix these problems in 30 days, House said, the commission could consider terminating the lease with 180 days of written notice. Commissioner Michael Merry asked if Allegiance would be given more than 30 days to take care of extensive repairs.

"If it's something that's going to take longer, they have that time," House said, "but they have to begin the process. Let's say it's something that's going to take them two or three months to do. It's OK as long as they notify us and give us a date that it's going to be done."

Commissioner Peggy Duncan moved to send the letter, and the commission unanimously agreed to do so. House said he hoped the letter would encourage better communication between the commission and Allegiance, saying he was supposed to have a meeting with Allegiance president Rock Bordelon and Mayor Butch Berry that never happened.

"We never heard back from Mr. Bordelon about getting together, so nothing came out of that meeting," House said.

The commission heard from hospital representative Catherine Pappas, who reported Dr. Paul Daidone has announced his resignation. Daidone will still work with the hospital on an assigned basis, Pappas said, but the clinic in Holiday Island is closing.

"He's going to stay with us until Sept. 30," Pappas said. "That is the last open day of the clinic in Holiday Island."

Also at the meeting, the commission agreed to have a workshop at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3, in the ECHO community room to discuss services it could offer to the community. House said it would be a good idea for the commission to get a handle on which services the community needs and how to make that happen with or without Allegiance.

"There's a good possibility that if Allegiance does decide to exit stage left, we may be the ones running the hospital," House said. "If we have the experience already we may be in a better position to offer those services and take it over."

The commission's next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 19, at the ECHO community room.

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