July 10, 2014

Hamilton Primary Care operating hours could change-Pending approval of hospital board

July 10, 2014 Joyce Marie Taylor Suwannee Democrat

Jasper — Hamilton County Commissioners voted to change the days and hours of operation of the new rural health clinic, including no Saturday hours, pending approval of the hospital board.

At the July 1 meeting of the Hamilton County Board of County Commissioners, County Coordinator Louie Goodin stated he had a meeting with officials from Shands on June 6, regarding changing the operating days and hours of the new rural health clinic in Jasper. Hamilton Primary Care Clinic at 1150 US 41 NW in Jasper opened their doors on Jan. 7 this year.

One issue that was addressed at the June 6 meeting, Goodin said, was the lack of patients utilizing the clinic on Saturdays, whereby, Shands sent a letter of request to the county to change their operating hours. Current operating hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m.

“They agreed to wait until the end of the second quarter to see if the patient count rose any,” Goodin stated. “They are requesting to change the clinic hours to Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.”

Goodin said they also wanted to change their lunchtime to half an hour, rather than an hour. Commission Chair Josh Smith asked Goodin if the clinic could stay open during lunch by staggering times. It was noted by County Clerk Greg Godwin that because of their limited staff, there was no way for them to do so.

“I’m all right with the changes,” said Commissioner Randy Ogburn. “They ought to know better than me what hours work and what hours don’t.”

Smith said he was OK with the changes, too.

“We tried it on Saturdays and we see the numbers are potentially low,” said Smith.

Ogburn then made a motion to accept the new proposed hours. Because the clinic is a joint effort between the county and the hospital board, however, the changes must be approved by both boards before going into effect. Goodin said he spoke to one of the members of the hospital board and she told him she didn’t think the rest of the board members would have a problem with changing the hours.

“My motion will be based on their approval, also,” Ogburn added.

Commissioner Robert Brown seconded the motion.

Commissioner Buster Oxendine interjected, “Why would they do the hours different on Friday than they do the other four days of the week? Why wouldn’t we make all five days the same? There’s going to be someone sitting there at 7:30 and they won’t be open until 8:30. It’s open now from 10 in the morning until seven in the evening,” he added. “I’ll be honest with you, I don’t like it. I’m gonna state it for the record. I don’t like it not going until 7 p.m. because I’m a working man. It gives me an opportunity not to have to take off work to go to the doctor.”

Oxendine suggested leaving the hours the way they are at 10-7 and just change Saturday to Monday. He also said he thought the reason they want the hours changed is because they don’t like the current ones. When Shands originally presented their proposal to the county they agreed to the hours the county had asked for, he added.

“They don’t like working until 7 o’clock in the afternoon,” said Oxendine. “They’re doing these hours to suit them and to make their employees feel better, is what they’re doing, and that’s just my opinion.”

At that point Ogburn retracted his motion and Brown retracted his second. Then, Ogburn made another motion to change the days and hours to Mon.-Fri. from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Brown seconded it. More discussion among the board members brought out the suggestion that clinic employees wanted to leave early on Friday to get a head start on the weekend.

Resident George Roberson was in the audience and stated that the board would be defeating their original purpose of the health clinic, which was making healthcare available after hours.

“I had one of the employees there tell me that it was time to change it, because they wanted to go have fun just like other people,” said Roberson. “They’re wanting the hours to suit them, not suit the county.”

The board voted 3-2 to change the hours to 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., based on hospital board approval, with Oxendine and Smith voting against the motion.

Ogburn recuses himself

Later in the meeting, Ogburn stated he needed to clear up something and seek counsel’s advice, which was the fact his nephew works at the clinic.

“But my decision is not based on him working there and I’m honest,” said Ogburn. “I may need to retract my motion.”

Ogburn said his decision to change the hours was based on what he has been hearing on the street. McCormick said Ogburn’s motion had no bearing on his nephew’s hiring, his position or his salary at the clinic.

“But it does change his hours of employment,” Ogburn interjected.

After more discussion it was agreed that Ogburn would retract his motion and Brown would retract his second, and the board would start all over with Ogburn recusing himself from the vote. Ogburn said he didn’t want the public coming back at him saying he was showing favoritism.

Adams interjected that technically there was no need for Ogburn to recuse himself because there was nothing to gain.

“It doesn’t affect his (nephew) position or advancement,” said Adams. “If you don’t feel comfortable with it you can retract it.”

Ogburn rescinded his motion, Brown seconded it and the board voted unanimously to accept it.

Brown then made a motion to change the clinic’s hours to 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, pending approval of the hospital board. Burnam seconded the motion. The motion failed by a vote of 2-2, with Oxendine and Smith voting against.

Oxendine then made a motion to change the hours to 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, but then changed his mind and made a motion to change the hours to 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Thursday with one half hour for lunch, and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday with no lunch, upon approval of the hospital board. The motion passed 3-1 with Smith voting against and Ogburn recusing himself.


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