Heidi Zemach for SCN
The Seward City Council, the co-applicant for the new Seward Community Health Center grant funding, wants to make it clear under a revised council ordinance authorizing employees of the new CHC to become employees of the city for a limited time, but not PERS employees, that they are in no way responsible for hiring the executive director of the new Seward Community Health Center.
The interim director position, and permanent executive director is to be filled, and will be vetted by the Seward Health Center Board of Directors. The City shall however temporarily employ the CHC staff, probably fewer than 10 employees, under an alternative city staffing arrangement, so that they can obtain some of the other City benefits. The arrangement will allow the CHC board of directors to adopt certain of the city’s employment procedures, and buy it time to focus on other operational matters during the initial operating period.
The council approved the first reading of ordinance 2013-013 at Monday night’s December 9th 2013 City Council meeting, amended to exclude hiring the executive director, which was proposed by new council member Dave Squires. The CHC board was given only 120 days from November 8th, the time the federal grant was announced to create and open the clinic under new leadership in the Seward Providence Hospital building. The council and CHC board of directors are therefore operating under a rushed timetable to get this done in time, and make sure that it is done properly.
They have not seen any contracts yet from the CHC regarding employees, but the council has informally discussed employing them for three to five years, or possibly less.
They will hold a special meeting next Monday, at noon, to hold the ordinances’ second and final reading, and public hearing. Council members also are expected to approve of the CHC board’s selection of interim executive director at that time.
Under the ordinance’s City Powers and Duties (2.30.040), the city will be able to access CHC’s records to assure they comply with applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations. The City Council also would be responsible for adopting the CHC’s annual operating and capital budgets (as approved by the CHC board), or approve an alternate budget for the CHC without review and final approval by the board. If approved by council resolution, the city also may provide human resources, risk management, legal, accounting and general administrative services to the CHC.
Employees of the Seward CHC are deemed city employees for purposes of health insurance, and any other aspect of employment agreed upon in a co-applicant agreement that the council approves. But the CHC will be solely responsible for all aspects of their employment including administering payroll, hiring, training, supervising, providing discipline, addressing grievances, and terminating them. The health center also will maintain the health insurance, liability insurance and workers’ compensation for as long as they remain City employees. The health center may provide retirement benefits to the new class of employees, but they shall not be covered by the state PERS system that other city workers enjoy.
Providence’s manager Joe Fong and many CHC board members sat through the council meeting, and CHC board member Dave Paperman said afterward that they were pleased with the council’s approval of these changes—which allows them to continue to move forward.