Central Peninsula General Hospital is sending someone to Hawaii.
As a matter of fact, the Kenai Peninsula Borough-owned hospital had originally made plans to send two people.
But this will not be a leisure trip for Loretta Flanders, the third-year board member of CPGH Inc., the nonprofit organization that manages the hospital.
Flanders will leave this week for Maui to attend a five-day conference given by Estes Park Institute, an independent, nonprofit corporation based in Englewood, Colo., that conducts educational opportunities for health care leaders.
With a $1,495 tuition, and travel and accommodation expenses of close to $2,500, Flanders said she expects to return with valuable information that will be of great benefit to the hospital that posted a loss of more than $2.4 million in operational revenue.
"Right now, we're about a $40 million business," Flanders said. "With a couple of exceptions, the (board members) do not have health care backgrounds. This is one of the ways we can get smart on health care issues."
Educational seminars will be offered during the conference to address the concerns of trustees or board members, physicians or hospital management. She said there also will be general sessions with topics of interest for everybody attending.
"They're hitting the topics of the day in health care," Flanders said. "And they have really top-flight people presenting."
According to Estes Park information, the faculty includes experts in federal policy and financing, healthy community development, organizational structure and management, home health care, governance, credentialing, legal issues, quality, management, health care informatics, integrated delivery systems, team building, communications and strategic planning.
Among the faculty members are Gordon Hunt, who has extensive experience in medical group formation, John Tiscornia, an authority on monitoring hospital financial viability and hospital consolidations, and Leland Kaiser, a pioneer in the healthier communities movement.
Flanders said she had earmarked several sessions on board accountability, including "Accountability: It's Not Just a Good Idea ... It's the Law!" and "From AHERF to Enron: Lessons for Boards."
Hospital spokesperson Bonnie Nichols said she attended an Estes Park conference in 2001 and was able to gain a wealth of knowledge. She said Flanders' travel arrangements were $825 for airfare and $1,954 for hotel accommodations.
"Those conferences are usually at really ritzy places," Nichols said. "I know it's expensive. If all 10 of them were going, I'd be like, 'Man it's a lot of money.' But that type of training is important for hospital board members, because running a hospital is so different from any other kind of business."
The Hawaii conference, which begins Sunday, is the only one of the six Estes Park offers annually around the country that is not in the Lower 48. Two were held last October and December in Dana Point, Calif., and in Palm Beach, Fla., respectively. Three more will be held later this year in Scottsdale, Ariz., La Quinta, Calif., and Naples, Fla.
Hospital CFO Ed Burke said the 5 1/2-hour flight and expense were justified for the trip to Maui versus the other sites.
"The bottom line is it is cheaper and takes less time," Burke said.
After attending a conference, attendees have access to developing information beyond what they learned during the week. Flanders said she will report what she learned from the conference at a CPGH Inc. board meeting upon her return.
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