Thoughts As Al Pens His Letter
Jokingly, of course, this editor urged one commissioner to duct tape his fellow commissioner to his
office chair to prevent him from entering one particular courthouse meeting room 22 days ago, for a
long-overdue meeting with Highlands Hospital. At the time, a meeting had been requested by Highlands
Hospital representatives with two "conflict-free" commissioners to talk about that facility's Medicaid
behavioral health contract with the county for inpatient services.
Prior to that meeting, email from the county, reportedly, was sent to the hospital canceling the
meeting. Yet a meeting was still held anyway with county behavioral health department reps and at
least one county commissioner 22 days ago.
Then 16 days ago, of course, a regular meeting of the FCBHA advisory board was cancelled and the
commission chairman that evening followed Highlands Hospital staff through the doors at the
Connellsville City Council meeting, where a couple dozen hospital staff asked city council to encourage
county leaders to meet with them and save Highlands Hospital from financial ruin.
Since then, it has been relatively quiet. Not a peep. No meeting was planned.
However, following yesterday's letter to the Herald Standard editor from hospital staff, now there's
today's article, "Meeting between Highlands Hospital, Fayette Co. officials in the works." In it, the
commission chairman says he is in the process of drafting a letter to schedule a meeting to resolve the
hospital contract issue and should get the letter out early next week.
So much for the suggestion with the duct tape or strong public opinion that he should recuse himself.
Whether it is the meeting with the county that Highlands wants or not, the hospital staff, its CEO and
legal representative, they all should attend.
Whether it is the meeting that Commissioner Zapotosky said he wanted -- i.e., to have the FCBHA
director assume responsibility for the problem that started in July and August, when she remained
silent about approving a county Medicaid provider contract with Uniontown Hospital for inpatient and
outpatient services in March -- or not, he should attend.
Whether it is the meeting that Commissioner Zimmerlink thought Highlands should have had with two
"conflict-free" commissioners or not, she should attend.
That Commissioner Ambrosini is still unwilling to recuse himself and feels that he must include
Uniontown Hospital's CEO is unfortunate. But since there likely won't ever be a meeting without the
two men, Highlands should go and hear what is said. Commissioner Zapotosky previously said that the
Uniontown CEO had put an offer on the table for Highlands and that it still stood. Highlands should at
least learn what that offer is and when it was made.
Although Highlands has experienced a loss of revenue since Uniontown Hospital became a county
Medicaid behavioral health provider, Uniontown is just as needy.
Uniontown desperately needs Highlands' expertise in helping to train its staff in mental health triage
and crisis intervention. Police should never, never have to be called back in again another time to
Uniontown Hospital to use a stun gun on a psych patient and haul another patient downtown to the
5 Oct 12