The League of Women Voters of Mexico-Audrain County hosted a forum Tuesday evening designed to showcase candidates in the April 2 General Municipal Election running for Mexico City Council, Health Center Trustee, Hospital Trustee and Emergency Services Board-Eastern District.
The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan political organization, which means it does not oppose or support candidates, but does try to provide information about the candidates as a part of their voter service program.
The event was moderated by members of the League of Women Voters. The format included prearranged questions as well as questions from the audience.
Questions prepared by members of the League of Women Voters and answers submitted by the candidates (in alphabetical order) are as follows:
1. What are your qualifications for the position of Mexico City Council?
I have filled the position of Mexico City Councilman for two terms. My career has always been one involved in critical day to day decision making. I have always looked at the decisions made for Mexico: always need to place the city and its citizens first. You need to consider "How does this make ours a better community?" or, "How does this help us grow?" If it can answer one of those questions positively, then it has the makings of a good decision.
"We are all in this together" is my past motto and still is my motto because to me those words are the best words to describe what it means to be a councilperson. I believe the job of a councilperson is to represent the entire community not just certain groups or classes within the community. I myself have been in leadership positions for over twenty years now and have worked with people from all types of backgrounds which is vitally important since a community is made up of citizens of all demographics.
In my position on council the record shows that I am a person that does more than simply show up to vote yes. The record also shows that not only do I have the backbone to vote no, I bring issues up for vote on my own that I feel are beneficial to the community. Some examples of items that I have brought up and got passed include: holding work sessions for the council, community, and city staff to meet in a less formal setting, term limits on the mayors' position, and the meetings are now recorded and available for viewing.
2. Identify two issues you would like to see addressed by the Mexico City Council during the upcoming term. How would you recommend these issues be addressed?
First is how to make Mexico a stronger "Destination Location." How do we get people to come here to do things? We do well with the Miss Missouri, Walk Back in Time and Soybean Festival to name a few. But that doesn't mean we cannot do better. These are good starts. These are things that bring outsiders to our community. They give us as Mexico the chance to say "Look at our fine city." It lets us show others what we are about and makes people want to come back or better yet, stay.
Page 2 of 8 - Second. I am seeing a noticeable number of Mexico youth return as young adults to work and to raise their families here. How do we keep this trend going and growing? We should cater to the needs of the future of Mexico to assure that ours is not a community that fades away like so many other communities in the Midwest have.
Though these are two different issues, they address the same subject, making Mexico the best it can be for now and for years to come!
The first issue is the need for continued development of the comprehensive plan that the city is currently engaged in. For too many years the City has had no plan beyond the short term. This plan offers this for the next 10 years if accomplished right with community input and buy-in. This process allows everyone in the community a voice; they can attend an open forum or they can participate via the public web site right from home. As a councilperson I have been engaged with this process from the selection process to now being on the advisory committee.
The second issue I would like to see the city take a more active approach is the development of more commercial development. During the last three years we have taken the city from an above average unemployment rate to a below average one. The problem I see and hear the most about now all stem from the commercial side be it a nice restaurant or providing family entertainment. As a city we need to be addressing this issue. It gives our citizens a viable choice to stay home, spend their money locally, and grow our own community.
1. What are your qualifications for a position on the Health Board of Trustees?
Dr. Patricia R. Burke:
I am qualified by intimate knowledge of the provision of healthcare through my training and vocation: Doctor of Medicine, University of KY 1986; Pediatric Residency, University of Louisville, 1986-89; Pediatrician, General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital 1989-1992; Mexico Pediatric Services 1993 to present.
I am qualified by experience in healthcare leadership: Chief of Medicine 2004-5, Chief of Staff Elect 2006-7, Chief of Staff 2008-9, Audrain Medical Center. I currently serve as the Chief of Quality Review, responsible for bringing the medical staff perspective to issues of quality in the provision of medical care. I also currently serve as the Chairman of the Audrain County Health Department Board of Health and have served in that role since its inception in April 2012.
I am a concerned, lifelong citizen of Audrain County who believes that health care needs representation by the everyday, common people with no ties or agendas other than the ongoing, wellbeing of citizens of our community.
Page 3 of 8 - I have raised kids and help raise grandkids in this community. I have had family, friends and relatives try to access care and have experienced many of the roadblocks that face our citizens. It is time that their voice be heard, Not being a health care provider myself, I feel I could properly represent the everyday citizens of Audrain County.
I am a Christian and a member of Lockewood Park Baptist Church. I am employed at United Credit Union.
• Master's prepared, Registered Nurse for 27+ years, residing in Audrain County since 1989.
Previously I have the following experience:
• Staff nurse in home health and acute care positions.
• Responsible for nine major departments with 200+ employees (Human Resources, Foundation, Switchboard & Patient Registration, Case Management, Utilization Review, Scheduling, Social Work, Educational Services and Patient Education).
• Consulted for a law firm on court case and deposition preparation.
• CQI (Continuous Quality Improvement) Coordinator for six years.
• Previously certified as a CPHQ (Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality), thereby I understand and have utilized quality indicators in various health care settings.
• Full-time Nursing Faculty for Columbia College in Columbia, Missouri.
• Teaches NCLEX review courses for Kaplan. Responsible for teaching all areas of review, including Community Health Nursing.
• Principal for Paul Prior & Associates, LLC - a health care education and consulting firm.
My background in acute care, court case review, quality improvement, management, home health, nursing education and managing my own health care business uniquely qualifies me to serve on this board. As part of this background I have an understanding of the financial impacts related to health care. This is important and it is the taxpayer's dollars we must manage wisely.
Sharon D. Stowers:
1. Graduated from MU School of Nursing in 1965 with RN/BSN degree, served 3 years in US Navy Nurse Corps, and returned in 1968 to the family farm north of Centralia.
2. Thirty-seven years at AMC, beginning in 1970, included staff nursing, nursing supervision, and 20+ years as Director of Infection Control, Quality/Risk Management, and Physician Credentialing/Peer Review.
3. Masters in Business Administration from William Woods University in 1995 provided me the requisite insight for effective budget/financial management at AMC and Stowers Trucking, Inc.
4. Co-owner and business partner of Stowers Trucking Inc. and Stowers Farms for 25+ years.
5. Extensive Regulatory Experience: Joint Commission for Accreditation of Hospitals Organization, MO Department of Health, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, U.S./MO Department of Transportation.
6. 1995-2012 member of Home Health Hospice Professional Advisory Committee (resigned after appointment to ACHD by the Audrain County Commission); 2010-present MU Sinclair School of Nursing Alumni Board.
Page 4 of 8 - In summary, I feel I have much expertise to offer ACHD in clinical and financial aspects and I wish to continue serving Audrain County in supporting and providing oversight in the Public Health arena.
2. What do you see as the two major issues confronting the Audrain County Health Department Board of Trustees?
Dr. Patricia R. Burke:
In addition to the challenges of providing healthcare to the diverse and scattered population of Audrain County, the two major issues confronting the Board of Health are the continued transition of the Health Department and stewardship of the funds entrusted to our oversight. Many of the issues of transition such as name change, new bylaws, and many new contracts for services have already been addressed by the current Board of Health. However, many remain such as approval of policies and procedures, and determining the best location of the Department to allow for potential expansion of services in the most cost-effective manner. Stewardship of our funds involves addressing reimbursement and expenditures. Funding for Public Health has always been a challenge. The decrease in services experienced over the last 15 years is a direct result of decreased funding from federal, state, and local sources. The stability of the income from the new tax base will be an asset, however, funding from the state and other sources continues to decrease and we will need to ensure maximum reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid as well as seek innovative options to increase reimbursement from private insurance. We need to continue to ensure that we are using our funds in the most efficient and economical fashion by actively seeking low cost/high quality providers of goods and services.
The Health Department of Audrain County has struggled for many years trying to provide superior services to our citizens on less than a shoestring budget. They have done a fabulous job so far, now that the citizens have approved the mil tax to help stabilize the health unit, I feel we need to first secure the health unit by maintaining quality staff, establishing them as their own identity and providing them secure housing.
a. Building they are currently in is soon being sold to SSM with hospital buyout.
b. There are buildings in town which will functionally meet their needs.
c. The citizens have been told they would not build a new building.
d. Cost of new building could run millions. This should not be an option currently.
With a secure health department we can think outside the box and expand services to truly meet the needs of our citizens.
The two major issues that I see confronting the Health Board of Trustees are outcome measures for local public health and fiscal oversight of taxpayer's dollars.
Page 5 of 8 - Our job as board members is not to manage a day to day operation that is the Administrator's job, which is hired by the board. However, the board does have responsibility to the public for a quality driven and fiscally sound public health program.
When I review the Audrain Report 2012 I see lots of data with lots of numbers, however, I would like to see more outcomes (results) of how that data on a particular service actually improved the health of those residing in Audrain County. This is called outcome data and ties directly to what I believe is the second issue and that is oversight of a fiscally sound public health. If you are allocating the taxpayer dollars into the priority programs and are able to manage that with sound outcomes your taxpayer dollars are being well managed.
Therefore, a review of quality outcome measures and allocation of taxpayer dollars are the two issues I would begin with if elected to the Health Board of Trustees.
Sharon D. Stowers:
1. Long term, the most important issue for any board is fiduciary in nature, and it must maintain a stable and financially strong bottom line balancing revenue with debt. The State of MO has already notified us of a decrease of funds due to a shortfall in state funds. This is an ongoing problem considering the current economy. Unfortunately, hard decisions may need to be made. During this ongoing process of fiscal responsibility, outcome measures will be essential to make appropriate decisions as to the effectiveness of the various programs in conjunction with the mandates of state and federal programs. This is the "oversight" that is due the taxpayer.
2. Short term but no less a major effort to maintain a smooth transition to ensure services will not be interrupted, is the purchase of a building and moving the operation to the new location. This will also provide physical permanency and stability to ACHD's mission "To protect and promote the public health and community wellbeing of the residents of Audrain County."
1. What are your qualifications for a position on the Hospital Trustees?
Constance A. Hesse:
For the past six years, I have served on the Tri County Care Center Board of Directors located in Vandalia. The care center primarily serves Audrain, Ralls, and Pike County residents. As chairman of the Board of Directors, I have acquired broad knowledge regarding the changing health care needs of area residents and the dynamics of patient care. Along with successfully managing and maintaining a balanced budget through the years of the recession, the facility has maintained a high occupancy rate. We have worked through the Medicare changes, and have instituted electronic records within the facility. Additionally, I serve on the Central Missouri Community Action Board of Directors. CMCA serves Audrain and five surrounding counties with a purpose of empowering individuals and families to achieve self-reliance in society. The fundamental needs of enjoying good health and achieving financial success work hand in hand. As a retired educator it was easy to see that if the basic needs of children are not met, then learning is difficult. The same theory holds true for adults. Enjoying a healthy lifestyle is essential to being a productive member of society. Serving on the Hospital Trustee Board will allow me to continue to represent Audrain and surrounding county residents to meet their health care needs.
Page 6 of 8 - Dr. Peter D. Perll:
I believe that I possess several qualities that would make me a good Hospital Trustee. First, I have been a general surgeon and active staff member at Audrain Medical Center for almost twenty years. I am very aware of the strengths and weaknesses of AMC. Second, I have family and friends that live and work in this community. I receive a lot of feedback from people about the hospital. I am able to use that information to help the staff and administration be aware of issues that the community perceives as important. Finally, I am a determined, persistent and passionate person. If elected as the Hospital Trustee, I would plan on bringing those traits to the Board.
2. What do you see as the two major issues confronting the Hospital Trustees?
Constance A. Hesse:
Health care needs are growing as the population ages. In addition, as the effects of the nation's Affordable Care Act materialize there are may changes facing medical professionals. A time of transition is imminent as it has been reported in The Mexico Ledger that SSM Health Care will own and operate Audrain Medical Center and its nine MedChoice rural clinics effective April 1. The new organization will guide AMC in the direction needed to continue to serve Audrain County and surrounding area residents effectively. Other challenges confronting all medical facilities include working with various insurance providers. Patients are often unfamiliar with the specifics of their own plan. They might find that after visiting an emergency room, the hospital bill is covered by their health care provider but the specific physician services are not covered under the same plan. This dynamic is often a source of anguish for the policy holder. Finally, developing effective Accountable Care Organization Contracts between area long-term care facilities and the Medical Center to maintain a low re-admission rate for all patients will prove to be an important aspect of managing a quality facility.
Dr. Peter D. Perll:
I believe the two major issues confronting AMC are the recent affiliation of AMC with the SSM (Sisters of Saint Mary) system and the long term survival of the hospital in Mexico. The affiliation details have already been completed and SSM will take over the management of AMC effective April 1, 2013. This is a very exciting time in the long history of Audrain Medical Center. I believe that the affiliation will address my second major issue (the long term survival of our hospital in Mexico). Together with our new partner (SSM), the long term outlook for the hospital and medical care in Mexico and the surrounding communities has taken a giant step forward. We can and will do great things together. If elected, I would like to facilitate the transition and mission as much as possible.
Page 7 of 8 - 1. What are your qualifications for a position on the Emergency Services Board Eastern District?
Charles M. Scrogin:
I have been a Board Member of 911 Emergency Service for the last 4 years.
Active member of Vandalia Fire Dept.
Retired from the Missouri State Water Patrol in 2000 with 33 years of service.
Retired from Ralls County Sheriff Department Dec. 2012 where I worked as a Deputy Sheriff for 12 years.
My Law Enforcement and Fire Service experience gives me understanding of what those agencies need prior to their arrival on scene.
I have 20 plus years in emergency response including: Military Police, HazMat, Fire/Rescue, Crash Tech, Health Care, Dispatch and EMS. I have a working knowledge of the FCC and the new Narrowbanding laws. I understand how important communications are, not only in emergencies but also in everyday life. I have good verbal communication skills and am able to converse with everyone on any level. As the County EMD I work with all local response agencies and municipalities within the County on Planning, Mitigation, Response and Recovery actions and understand the importance of communication during disaster events and daily operations. I also work with dispatch centers across the region which allows me to have many resources available to consult with. I have a working knowledge and skill level of State Criteria, Federal Interoperability and I am considered a subject expert on the Incident Command System (County Operating System). I have an excellent record on working with other persons and agencies in setting standards to live/work by and reaching goals set forth by said person/agencies. I believe there is always room for improvement, and I strive each and every day towards that goal.
John A. Weiser:
When I came into this position four years ago, I had no axes to grind or preconceived notions that would hinder having an open mind on all issues. This has proven to be of benefit to all concerned.
I have over 36 years of management skills to bring to the table. This includes managing over 30 employees and multiple locations.
By serving on various other boards and organizations, I have learned how to accomplish goals and cooperate with various management styles and personalities.
I believe that the Eastern District should be represented by someone that has the Eastern District's interests in mind and will represent the people fairly and honestly.
2. What do you see as the two major issues confronting the Emergency Services Board Eastern District?
Charles M. Scrogin:
Hiring highly motivated individuals as dispatchers who can be trained for a very stressful job. Retention of those highly qualified individuals. Making Audrain County Emergency Service one of the top organizations in the State of Missouri.
Page 8 of 8 - Keeping a uniform representation on the emergency board. Representing the entire county.
A. Sustainability comes to mind first and foremost and is always a major concern for any agency. When and how to buy new equipment, cost effectiveness of upgrading existing equipment vs. replacing. And of course the training of dispatch, administration personnel and board members, not to mention where the money is coming from and the most effective way to budget the monies are always a challenge.
B. Public Relations with agencies and citizens in the eastern part of the county seem to be stressed at best, and I feel if there are gaps in communication and services that need to be addressed along with any hard feelings need to be rectified for the good of the community. E-911 has a lot to offer agencies and citizens. We need the input and support of every responding agency and citizen to achieve good public relations.
John A. Weiser:
The major issue facing the Emergency Services Board is personnel. The dispatch position is a highly stressful job requiring especially dedicated people to fulfill our mission. Hiring, training and retaining these people are all high priorities requiring constant monitoring and mentoring.
Making sure that the taxpayer's money is spent prudently and within the county whenever possible is another issue that requires close scrutiny by the Board. Fair representation is required to help meet this goal.