District 5 hospital board candidates share their views

PNT Staff Report

The Portales News-Tribune asked the candidates for the Roosevelt General Hospital Board of Directors to respond to the following questions.

Lonnie Alexander

1. Briefly describe your professional background and volunteer service.

I have been a practicing physician since 1985, in Portales since 1986. I’ve always been active as ENMU’s team physician, provided sports physicals for high school and university athletes. I serve on the alumni board at ENMU and on the Friends of Eastern Foundation.

2. Describe your past and current involvement with Roosevelt General Hospital.

I started working at RGH when I came to ENMU as a student. I worked full-time while I was a full-time student. I began as an orderly, then an emergency room technician, then a respiratory therapist, and then a licensed practical nurse in the emergency room. In 1978 I went to medical school and returned as a physician. I worked full-time at RGH until it closed in 1997, and worked there full-time after it reopened. I was instrumental in helping get the new hospital and in recruiting physicians to keep the hospital in the community.

3. What are your plans for RGH?

It’s important that it remain a viable hospital so we can expand services and provide health care services to the community.

4. How would you attract doctors to the area?

I’ve always been active in recruiting physicians and still am.

5. How can the RGH board improve services?

Primarilly, right now the focus needs to be on recruiting so we can provide more primary care to Roosevelt County citizens.

6. What concerns about the hospital would you like to address in your first year on the board?

These are pretty trying times for health care. We need to make smart decisions about what services we can provide. It’s important for us to be fiscally responsible so we can provide services now in the future.

Bill Rice (some answers have been edited for length)

1. Briefly describe your professional background and volunteer service.

I have been a registered nurse since 1992 and was a licensed practical nurse for 10 years before that. I started work at the old RGH when I was 16 years old as an orderly and have been in healthcare nearly 30 years, most of it at RGH. I am a member of the American Nurses Association and the federal government’s disaster response team. I have been selected as the Best Nurse in Portales by the Portales News-Tribune readers’ poll twice. I have been an assistant scoutmaster with the Boy Scouts of America. I am a member of the Floyd Jamboree Band. I served as a county commissioner from 1998 until 2002 and oversaw the release of $3.2 million to be used toward the new hospital. I was one of five commissioners who oversaw the formation of the special hospital district and election of the board members.

2. Describe your past and current involvement with Roosevelt General Hospital.

Portales and Roosevelt County is where I hang my hat. I have been a resident of the county the vast majority of my 45 years and fully intend to be buried here. I have practiced nursing here for many years and intend to continue here for the rest of my career. I have been proactive in healthcare for our communities and believe that the hospital is essential to providing quality care to the citizens of the county. I worked for years in the Emergency Department at both the old and new facilities and was a nursing supervisor at both hospitals. I was instrumental in alerting the public to Presbyterian’s plans for closure of the old hospital, despite denials from that organization. Currently, I am the cardiac rehabilitation manager at Roosevelt General Hospital and have built that program into a very successful one that meets a critical need in our community.

3. What are your plans for RGH?

I want RGH to grow and become what the voters intended it to be. I believe that the people of Roosevelt County wanted a hospital that met their needs and, even though we have made great strides, there is always room for growth. It has become apparent that the lack of obstetrical services is very much an issue to many individuals. This is an issue for me but was not at the forefront until I began to hear from supporters of my opponent. I now am hearing that there are still many unresolved questions from the public on this issue and I wish to provide an objective answer to them.

Currently, La Casa (Family Health Center) doesn’t admit to our hospital, and this is an area that can be looked at for growth of both entities.