Former employees: Changes sign of turmoil at SCH

Target 8

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Patient care at a Montcalm County hospital is changing as accusations mount against the facility’s president and CEO.

As of July 25, patient rounds and the 24/7 on-call service at Sheridan Community Hospital (SCH) are being contracted through Samaritan Health Care, PC, which is based in Greenville.

SCH CEO Randy Flechsig confirmed the move to Target 8 over the phone Tuesday.

A courtesy photo of Randy Flechsig. (July 30, 2019)
A courtesy photo of Randy Flechsig. (July 30, 2019)

“In this case, we’re not looking at an experimental or trial period,” Flechsig said on the decision. “We’re comfortable in the credentialing process. There’s nothing there that leads us to believe there’s going to be an issue going forward. The contract’s in place and will stay in place until something other causes it not to be. Right now, we’re confident they’re going to be able to do work well.”

He added the outsourcing helps the hospital financially but defended against concerns the hospital is struggling.

“We’re plugging away, and we fight hard every day,” he said. “…It’s merely something operating wise we chose to do to provide the service. We think it’s a better coverage option.”

CONCERNS LEAD TO RESIGNATIONS 

Until recently, Heather Yanchula was the nurse practitioner for the hospital and Dr. Monish Sharma was the collaborating physician. The positions are now absorbed by the Samaritan contract.

Yanchula resigned earlier this month, telling Target 8 she has concerns for patient safety. She joined the hospital in December 2017.

“My license is on the line,” she told 24 Hour News 8 after putting in her resignation. “I can’t ethically, morally condone what they’re doing any longer.”

Yanchula described a consistent lack of supplies, improper staffing and an ongoing water problem inside the hospital.

“There’s one side of the hallway that the majority of the patient rooms are on that don’t get adequate hot water,” she explained.

Yanchula said nurses have resorted to transporting hot water from other rooms by filling basins from working taps and taking them to the patients for baths. She believes a lack of necessary supplies is a sign that vendors aren’t being paid.

“He says it’s nobody’s business: The financials, patients’ insurance, it’s nobody’s business,” Yanchula said of taking concerns to Flechsig. “Well, when it comes down to supplies for the patients I’m taking care of, that is my business.”

Flechsig acknowledged there is a problem with a water pump station installed about a year ago at the hospital and they’re “desperately” working to identify the source.

“A few of the rooms on one side of the corridor the water takes a little longer to heat up. So yea, that’s just a mechanical issue and it’s something that will be fixed,” he told Target 8.

When asked about accusations he’s making decisions without involving the entire hospital staff, Flechsig said, “It’s one person’s opinion. I work with 110 people here on any given day. Certainly, they drive the organization, the folks in that building. It’s one person’s opinion. I think on average, on balance, we’re as transparent of an organization you’re going to find.”

Yanchula is dating the hospital’s former orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Mark Warner. He also shared harsh criticism with Target 8.

“It’s very classic narcissism and he continues to reiterate that on every experience I’ve had with him,” Dr. Warner said. “We’re not talking about a product that we’re making, putting it together on an assembly line. We’re talking about safety and we’re talking about patient care… Unfortunately, we’re at a point where that’s been lost. That oath has to be broken almost every time a patient is cared for in that facility.”

Both Warner and Yanchula spoke to Target 8 one week before Samaritan came in. At the time, they anticipated more outsourcing or complete acquisition by another healthcare system for the hospital to stay afloat.

“In order for the hospital to be turned around, it would require a monumental miracle,” Dr. Warner stated. “I think the one thing I hope can be taken away from this is that if Randy finds another facility to manage — at least someone will be able to monitor him and give him some accountability.”

PLANS TO KEEP SCH INDEPENDENT

Flechsig defended his approach to driving the hospital’s future Tuesday, saying he serves at the pleasure of the hospital board.

“I’d like to think we’re somewhat visionary. It’s never a straight line between point a and point b, but we usually hit our mark and we’re staying true to our strategic plan,” he told Target 8.

He said conversations and relationships are always evolving, but there are currently no plans for a merger or acquisition. He thinks to remain a Rural Access Hospital – only one of a few dozen in Michigan – helps the organization focus on the local needs of patients.

In addition to bringing in Samaritan, Flechsig said the hospital continues to cultivate its Swing Bed Program. It’s an opportunity to bring in patients discharged from other facilities but are still too sick to return home.

“They can come here, and they have the same nursing-to-staff ratio and all of the support services,” he explained.

The program brings in a variety of cases, so Target 8 questioned if the staff is properly trained to handle diverse patients.

“Training is ongoing,” Flechsig said. “We identify needs and then we put programs in place and because we’re rural, we rely on external resources.”

He reiterated to Target 8 the hospital is doing the best it can, considering the current hardships facing rural healthcare and national trends of bigger systems taking over smaller, independent facilities.

Proper training is also an area Yanchula and Warner cited as lacking at the hospital.

Target 8 continues to follow up on concerns over the hospital’s future.

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