On the same day the Bowman County Commissioners awarded $250,000 in funding to Southwest Healthcare to support their operations while they wait for their action plan to unfold, the board approach the city with another funding request of more than $150,000.
However, this funding was not requested for operations.
The money the board asked for was intended to buy out the contract of Dr. Matthew Feller so he can become a full-time Southwest Healthcare employee.
Southwest Healthcare interim CEO John Osse said the facility has a “terrific opportunity” to recruit Feller.
“He would like to leave his current employment, and work for [Southwest Healthcare],” Osse said. “He wants Bowman…the best part is we didn’t talk him into coming here, he kind of talk us into coming here.”
With contract employment, there’s a placement fee when hiring a physician from that company. Osse said that was “standard practice.”
The overall fee is $200,000, but Osse told the city commissioners that they were able to negotiate that total down from the original amount of $325,000.
Feller has been working at the hospital for more than a year, comfortable with the community, likes the area, and is an internal medicine doctor with a wide range of knowledge and expertise. Board member Roger Walter also pointed out that the community has said he works well with children.
Feller also generates a good amount of revenue for the hospital. Osse said that Feller would bring in a conservative estimate of more than $1 million in income to the facility.
“It’s a good investment, but it’s something we need assistance with,” he said.
Feller has given the hospital a three-year commitment.
The city does have a tax that’s set aside for healthcare, and is not suppose to be used for operations.
“It’s not for operations,” Osse said. “It’s 100 percent for our ability to secure this physician.”
The move would also save tens of thousand of dollars a week. Board chairman said that it would be $15,000 in savings a week.
Board member Duane Bowman also told the commission that between hiring both Feller and Dr. Forrest Lanchbury, and still hiring Aurora (the physician company) for three days a month, Southwest Healthcare would save $650,000 per year.
Commissioner Vail asked Osse what would happen if Feller didn’t fulfill the contract. Osse responded by saying they could file a lawsuit. Vail then asked if he had ever had to do something like that and Osse said he’s only had to threaten a suit once before.
The ultimate total given was $159,800. The Sunrise Foundation also pledged a dollar amount, and though that total wasn’t available by the time this went to print, Osse suggested to the city commission that the two funds would work.
“That together with the Sunrise Foundation would just about do it,” he said.
Three commissioners and commission president Lyn James voted to give the money to Southwest Healthcare with only commissioner Darrell West abstaining from the vote.
“I just want to say thank you, I guess on behalf of the whole board…[I] can’t tell you how much we appreciate it,” Brennan said to the commission following the approval. “I think this is a great opportunity and it’s the first step of many we have in place as we try to secure healthcare for our future.”