Tahoe Forest cleared in grand jury investigation | SierraSun.com

Tahoe Forest cleared in grand jury investigation

Staff Reports

In response to a complaint, the Nevada County Civil grand jury conducted an investigation of the Tahoe Forest Hospital District in April, but found no questionable practices.

During its investigation, the grand jury made the following findings:

– The district, which was formed by a vote of citizens in 1949, receives tax revenues from property that is within district boundaries.

– The district boundaries are entirely within California and the boundaries have been expanded by ballot votes five times since the original formation.

– The area served by TFH extends beyond the district boundaries and the service area includes Nevada County, Sierra County, the eastern portion of Placer County and the Incline Village area in Nevada.

– Operating under Nevada state law, the Incline Village Health Center provides health services for the area in and around Incline Village. The center was purchased in March of 1996 by the district from a private organization. There is a five-year plan in effect to establish the center’s optimal use before the board and management make a decision to invest further. Approximately 65 percent of the patients who first receive treatment at the Incline Village Health Center continue any necessary additional treatment at TFH.

– TFH has 35 acute-care beds and 37 long-term beds and is located in a resort area where sports injuries are common. Consequently, much of its revenue is generated in the Emergency Department. Physicians in private practice are extended the privilege, at the hospital’s discretion, of admitting their patients to the hospital for care. These doctors comprise the hospital medical staff.

– The hospital district had an annual operating budget of approximately $36.8 million for the fiscal year ending June 30. The hospital district uses a “cost distribution system” that identifies cost and earnings separately for each of the Truckee and Incline Village facilities. The district has a staff of 400 employees in full and part time positions.

– In an effort to attract employees, the hospital operates a child-care facility for ages four months through middle school. This day-care facility is available to the community as well as the staff.

– A video demonstrating the value of exercise for seniors was produced by a group that included a hospital employee who was acting as an independent agent. The video, which displays the hospital’s logo, is being marketed by the video’s producers. There is a royalty agreement between the marketer and the hospital which at this time has created no revenue for the hospital. The hospital administration stated that TFH incurred no costs in the production of the video.

The grand jury compiled these findings after touring the hospital and interviewing TFH CEO/Administrator Larry Long, TFH Chief Financial Officer David Bottemiller, a hospital employee and the complainant.

The grand jury concluded that the hospital’s management and board of directors are prudent in their fiscal operations and that the production of an exercise video was not a part of the district’s business and was the result of an employee’s off hours business venture. The grand jury found no conflict of interest on the production of the video.

It also concluded that a five-year plan to evaluate the optimum usage of the Incline Village Health Center “is reasonable before the district places more assets in the center.”

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