Shake up for K’ima:w Medical Center Board

Nursing Assistant Kristen Blake and Desk Technician Adrianne Natt working in the Nursing Station during a recent TRT visit to K’ima:w Medical Center in Hoopa. /Photo by Kristan Korns, Two Rivers Tribune

By KRISTAN KORNS, Two Rivers Tribune

The Hoopa Valley Tribal Council voted on Monday, March 24, to advertise and interview for all positions on K’ima:w Medical Center’s (KMC) Board.

Chairperson Danielle Vigil-Masten advised current K’ima:w Board members that they would remain in place until the positions were filled.

“The current K’ima:w Medical Center Board is welcome to reapply and interview,” Vigil-Masten said.

Councilmember Byron Nelson Jr. made the motion to replace the Board. He said the Council has received a wide variety of complaints from K’ima:w employees.

“It’s been a buildup over time of complaints about a dysfunctional operation,” Nelson said. “Because of these complaints, the Council conducted a survey of K’ima:w employees and 95 percent of the responses were negative.”

Vigil-Masten said, “They feel it isn’t a comfortable work environment.”

She added that even without the recent vote, three out of the five K’ima:w Board members were already up for reappointment.

K’ima:w Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Glenna Starritt said the survey was only answered by 37 out of 136 employees.

“Approximately two-thirds of K’ima:w employees didn’t respond to the survey,” Starritt said.

Vice Chairman Ryan Jackson cast the only no vote. “I voted against the motion to advertise all positions on the KMC Board.”

“There is a legal process the Council has to follow in order to, in effect, remove a seated Board member,” Jackson said. “The Tribal Council didn’t do that in this case.”

K’ima:w Board member Marcellene Norton said, “Removal of a Board member by the Council is only supposed to be for poor performance or gross negligence and that’s spelled-out in the Hoopa tribal personnel policies.”

Norton pointed to a March 12, 2014, memorandum from Attorney Tom Schlosser to the Tribal Council that said, in his opinion, removal of a board member “would require individualized proof of poor performance by the member, rather than dissatisfaction with the official actions of the board as a whole.”

Norton said, “The question I want answered is ‘what is my poor performance as an individual in this?’”

Nelson said the reapplication and interview process was necessary for the Council to reassert tribal control over Boards that were sometimes unresponsive.

“They’ll go through the interview process and there will be questions about how to make the operation better,” Nelson said. “Many may be reappointed, but it puts the emphasis on positive change on our terms.”

Peter Masten Jr., who served as the director of KMC for 13 years and  Tribal Chairman for eight years, said that the K’ima:w Board was working on positive changes, including efforts to cut down on high levels of absenteeism and tardiness among employees.

“The absenteeism and tardiness are problems because it directly affects patient care,” Masten said. “Not coming to work interrupts the flow of the operation.”

The Tribal Council and the K’ima:w Board are scheduled to meet on Tuesday, April 1, at 1 pm.

Vigil-Masten said, “The Council feels there are many concerns that aren’t being addressed. We’ll meet with the current Board members to see what we can do to change things.”

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Date
April 15th, 2014

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