2013-09-05 / Front Page

MCF has interim leader

Downstate man will replace Hubbard as administrator

MANISTIQUE – An interim administrator for the Schoolcraft County Medical Care Facility has been selected by its board. The downstate man will replace outgoing administrator Jerry Hubbard, who has come under fire for mismanagement of the struggling facility.

The Schoolcraft County Board of Commissioners was informed in late June that the facility was running out of funding, had a declining census, and having a problem obtaining reimbursements for Medicaid and Medicare bills. At that time, the facility’s board, consisting of residents Gary Demers, Dixie Anderson, and Keith Aldrich, requested the county’s financial assistance.

On Aug, 13, the MCF board accepted the resignation of Hubbard, with no final date of employment set. Since that time, Hubbard has continued to serve as administrator – a move that sparked debate during a recent meeting of the board of commissioners.

According to Chairperson Al Grimm, the MCF board’s upcoming request for a millage from Schoolcraft County voters is receiving backlash from a community that wants to see Hubbard’s exit. He emphasized this sentiment to MCF board member Demers, who was present at the meeting.

“I’m very upset with this deal,” Grimm said. “I don’t know if you and your board members ever get out in the public, but I do – a lot. I talk with the voters of Schoolcraft County. They’re telling me this millage will never fly if that man’s (Jerry Hubbard) not gone now.”

The MCF board is requesting a millage up to 1.5 mils be approved by voters in November. The millage will assist the facility with operating expenses and eventually replace an existing

“Maintenance of Effort” millage. The MOE millage was approved in the late 1980s as up to 2 mils, but is currently levied at only .5 mils, and is used to pay a MOE fee imposed by the state. This millage is set to expire next year.

In reference to a recently received report submitted by Mark Havens, a financial consultant hired by the MCF board to dissect the facility’s finances, Grimm said it is clear part of the problem was Hubbard.

“He was not doing the job,” he said. “He put everybody’s job in jeopardy – 120 employees.”

Grimm added that, in fairness to all of the employees, Hubbard needs to exit his position as soon as possible. Demers countered, saying the facility needs to have someone in place until a replacement is found.

“You have to have someone there,” he said. “There’s a 120 people there – that’s a big outfit. That’s a lot of money.”

Demers added that, while he is not a “Jerry supporter”, he does support the facility, and will do what is necessary to ensure it is taken care of in the interim.

“People are concerned about the facility, but they understand that this is our facility, this is the place for our loved ones,” he said. “(Where) they have to go to and want to go to, and spend the rest of their days there and they don’t want to see it close.”

Demers noted that both the director of nursing and assistant director of nursing had also vacated their positions, leaving Hubbard as the last “bone of contention”.

Grimm expressed his desire that the MCF board would move quickly to replace Hubbard, as a possible dismissal of its board members by the county board is a possibility.

“I want you to know we’re serious,” he said.

On Tuesday, Demers said in an interview with the Pioneer Tribune that the MCF board voted Friday to bring Michael Stephenson, of Atlanta, Mich., in to serve as interim administrator. Stephenson, who has approximately 26 years of experience in the field – first as a Medicaid auditor and then with medical facilities – would begin on Sept. 9. Hubbard’s final day in the office will be Sept. 13, Demers said, in order to give Stephenson assistance during the transition period.

Stephenson, though interested in a full-time position, will only serve as a part-time, temporary employee until after the millage vote in November. If the millage is approved, Demers said the board will then look to advertise for a new administrator.

“It’s going to be pretty tough to hire somebody until we find out what happens,” he said.

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