2003 Regular Session
To: Public Health and Welfare
By: Senator(s) Huggins
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 41-13-35 AND TO CODIFY SECTION 41-13-37, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO ESTABLISH AND AUTHORIZE A PROGRAM OF PAID EDUCATIONAL LEAVE FOR HOSPITAL EMPLOYEES; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 41-13-35, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
41-13-35. (1) The board of trustees of any community hospital shall have full authority to appoint an administrator, who shall not be a member of the board of trustees, and to delegate reasonable authority to such administrator for the operation and maintenance of such hospital and all property and facilities otherwise appertaining thereto.
(2) The board of trustees shall have full authority to select from its members, officers and committees and, by resolution or through the board bylaws, to delegate to such officers and committees reasonable authority to carry out and enforce the powers and duties of the board of trustees during the interim periods between regular meetings of the board of trustees; provided, however, that any such action taken by an officer or committee shall be subject to review by the board, and actions may be withdrawn or nullified at the next subsequent meeting of the board of trustees if the action is in excess of delegated authority.
(3) The board of trustees shall be responsible for governing the community hospital under its control and shall make and enforce staff and hospital bylaws and/or rules and regulations necessary for the administration, government, maintenance and/or expansion of such hospitals. The board of trustees shall keep minutes of its official business and shall comply with Section 41-9-68.
(4) The decisions of said board of trustees of the community hospital shall be valid and binding unless expressly prohibited by applicable statutory or constitutional provisions.
(5) The power of the board of trustees shall specifically include, but not be limited to, the following authority:
(a) To deposit and invest funds of the community hospital in accordance with Section 27-105-365;
(b) To establish such equitable wage and salary programs and other employment benefits as may be deemed expedient or proper, and in so doing, to expend reasonable funds for such employee salary and benefits. Allowable employee programs shall specifically include but not be limited to, medical benefit, life, accidental death and dismemberment, disability, retirement and other employee coverage plans. The hospital may offer and fund such programs directly or by contract with any third party and shall be authorized to take all actions necessary to implement, administer and operate such plans, including payroll deductions for such plans;
(c) To authorize employees to attend and to pay actual expenses incurred by employees while engaged in hospital business or in attending recognized educational or professional meetings;
(d) To enter into loan or scholarship agreements with employees or students to provide educational assistance where such student or employee agrees to work for a stipulated period of time for the hospital;
(e) To devise and implement employee incentive programs;
(f) To recruit and financially assist physicians and other health care practitioners in establishing, or relocating practices within the service area of the community hospital including, without limitation, direct and indirect financial assistance, loan agreements, agreements guaranteeing minimum incomes for a stipulated period from opening of the practice and providing free office space or reduced rental rates for office space where such recruitment would directly benefit the community hospital and/or the health and welfare of the citizens of the service area;
(g) To contract by way of lease, lease-purchase or otherwise, with any agency, department or other office of government or any individual, partnership, corporation, owner, other board of trustees, or other health care facility, for the providing of property, equipment or services by or to the community hospital or other entity or regarding any facet of the construction, management, funding or operation of the community hospital or any division or department thereof, or any related activity, including, without limitation, shared management expertise or employee insurance and retirement programs, and to terminate said contracts when deemed in the best interests of the community hospital;
(h) To file suit on behalf of the community hospital to enforce any right or claims accruing to the hospital and to defend and/or settle claims against the community hospital and/or its board of trustees;
(i) To sell or otherwise dispose of any chattel property of the community hospital by any method deemed appropriate by the board where such disposition is consistent with the hospital purposes or where such property is deemed by the board to be surplus or otherwise unneeded;
(j) To let contracts for the construction, remodeling, expansion or acquisition, by lease or purchase, of hospital or health care facilities, including real property, within the service area for community hospital purposes where such may be done with operational funds without encumbrancing the general funds of the county or municipality, provided that any contract for the purchase of real property must be ratified by the owner;
(k) To borrow money and enter other financing arrangements for community hospital and related purposes and to grant security interests in hospital equipment and to pledge a percentage of hospital revenues as security for such financings where needed; provided that the owner shall specify by resolution the maximum borrowing authority and maximum percent of revenue which may be pledged by the board of trustees during any given fiscal year;
(l) To expend hospital funds for public relations or advertising programs;
(m) To offer the following inpatient and outpatient services, after complying with applicable health planning, licensure statutes and regulations, whether or not heretofore offered by such hospital or other similar hospitals in this state and whether or not heretofore authorized to be offered, long-term care, extended care, home care, after-hours clinic services, ambulatory surgical clinic services, preventative health care services including wellness services, health education, rehabilitation and diagnostic and treatment services; to promote, develop, operate and maintain a center providing care or residential facilities for the aged, convalescent or handicapped; and to promote, develop and institute any other services having an appropriate place in the operation of a hospital offering complete community health care;
(n) To promote, develop, acquire, operate and maintain on a nonprofit basis, or on a profit basis if the community hospital's share of profits is used solely for community hospital and related purposes in accordance with this chapter, either separately or jointly with one or more other hospitals or health-related organizations, facilities and equipment for providing goods, services and programs for hospitals, other health care providers, and other persons or entities in need of such goods, services and programs and, in doing so, to provide for contracts of employment or contracts for services and ownership of property on terms that will protect the public interest;
(o) To establish and operate medical offices, child care centers, wellness or fitness centers and other facilities and programs which the board determines are appropriate in the operation of a community hospital for the benefit of its employees, personnel and/or medical staff which shall be operated as an integral part of the hospital and which may, in the direction of the board of trustees, be offered to the general public. If such programs are not established in existing facilities or constructed on real estate previously acquired by the owners, the board of trustees shall also have authority to acquire, by lease or purchase, such facilities and real property within the service area, whether or not adjacent to existing facilities, provided that any contract for the purchase of real property shall be ratified by the owner. The trustees shall lease any such medical offices to members of the medical staff at rates deemed appropriate and may, in its discretion, establish rates to be paid for the use of other facilities or programs by its employees or personnel or members of the public whom the trustees may determine may properly use such other facilities or programs;
(p) Provide, at its discretion, ambulance service and/or to contract with any third party, public or private, for the providing of such service;
(q) Establish a fair and equitable system for the billing of patients for care or users of services received through the community hospital, which in the exercise of the board of trustees' prudent fiscal discretion, may allow for rates to be classified according to the potential usage by an identified group or groups of patients of the community hospital's services and may allow for standard discounts where the discount is designed to reduce the operating costs or increase the revenues of the community hospital. Such billing system may also allow for the payment of charges by means of a credit card or similar device and allow for payment of administrative fees as may be regularly imposed by a banking institution or other credit service organization for the use of such cards;
(r) To establish as an organizational part of the hospital or to aid in establishing as a separate entity from the hospital, hospital auxiliaries designed to aid the hospital, its patients, and/or families and visitors of patients, and when the auxiliary is established as a separate entity from the hospital, the board of trustees may cooperate with the auxiliary in its operations as the board of trustees deems appropriate; * * *
(s) To make any agreements or contracts with the federal government or any agency thereof, the State of Mississippi or any agency thereof, and any county, city, town, supervisors district or election district within this state, jointly or separately, for the maintenance of charity facilities; and
(t) To develop a paid educational leave program for the study of certain health care occupations, including a licensed practical nurse, registered nurse, nurse practitioner, speech pathologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist and other health care occupations by any employee who works at the community hospital and who declares an intention to work in such respective health care occupation in the same hospital in which the employee was working when granted educational leave, for a minimum period of time after graduation in accordance with Section 41-13-37.
(6) No board of trustees of any community hospital may accept any grant of money or other thing of value from any not-for-profit or for-profit organization established for the purpose of supporting health care in the area served by the facility unless two-thirds (2/3) of the trustees vote to accept the grant.
(7) No board of trustees, individual trustee or any other person who is an agent or servant of the trustees of any community hospital shall have any personal financial interest in any not-for-profit or for-profit organization which, regardless of its stated purpose of incorporation, provides assistance in the form of grants of money or property to community hospitals or provides services to community hospitals in the form of performance of functions normally associated with the operations of a hospital.
SECTION 2. The following shall be codified as Section 41-13-37, Mississippi Code of 1972:
41-13-37. (1) A hospital may grant paid educational leave to those applicants it deems qualified therefor, upon such terms and conditions as it may impose and as provided for in this section. In order to be eligible for paid educational leave, an applicant must:
(a) Be working at the sponsoring hospital at the time of application;
(b) Attend any college or school approved and designated by the sponsoring hospital; and
(c) Agree to work in a health care occupation as a licensed practical nurse, registered nurse, nurse practitioner, speech pathologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist or other health care professional in the sponsoring hospital for a period of time equivalent to the period of time for which the applicant receives paid educational leave compensation, calculated to the nearest whole month, but in no event less than two (2) years.
(2) Before being granted paid educational leave, each applicant shall enter into a contract with the sponsoring hospital agreeing to the terms and conditions upon which the paid educational leave shall be granted. The contract shall include such terms and provisions necessary to carry out the full purpose and intent of this section. The contract shall be signed by the administrator of the sponsoring hospital and the recipient of paid educational leave compensation. If the recipient is a minor, his minority disabilities shall be removed by a chancery court of competent jurisdiction before the contract is signed.
(3) The sponsoring hospital shall have the authority to cancel any contract made between it and any recipient for paid educational leave upon such cause being deemed sufficient by the administrator of such hospital.
(4) The sponsoring hospital is vested with full and complete authority and power to sue in its own name any recipient for any balance due such hospital on any such uncompleted contract. The sponsoring hospital may contract with a collection agency or banking institution for collection of any balance due such hospital from any recipient. The sponsoring hospital and its employees and, if applicable, its board of trustees, are immune from any suit brought in law or equity for actions taken by the collection agency or banking institution incidental to or arising from their performance under the contract. The sponsoring hospital, collection agency and banking institution may negotiate for the payment of a sum that is less than full payment in order to satisfy any balance the recipient owes.
(5) Failure to meet the terms of an educational loan contract shall be grounds for revocation of the professional license which was earned through the paid educational leave compensation granted under this section.
(6) A finding by the sponsoring hospital of a default by the recipient shall be a finding of unprofessional conduct and therefore, a basis for the revocation of the professional license which was obtained through the educational leave program.
(7) Notice of pending default status, the consequences of a default and the hearing to determine the pending default status shall be mailed by the sponsoring hospital to the recipient at the last known address.
(8) The sponsoring hospital shall conduct a hearing of pending default status, make a final determination and, if appropriate, issue a Finding of Default.
(9) Recipients may appear at the hearing of pending default status, either personally or through counsel, or both, and produce and cross-examine witnesses or evidence in the recipient's behalf. The procedure of the hearing shall not be bound by the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure and Evidence.
(10) If at such hearing a recipient is found to be in default, a copy of the Finding of Default shall be forwarded to the appropriate licensing agency.
(11) Appeals from a Finding of Default made by the sponsoring hospital shall be to the circuit court of the county in which such hospital is located. Actions taken by the appropriate licensing agency in revoking a license when required by this section are not actions from which an appeal may be taken under the general licensing and disciplinary provisions applicable to the licensing agency.
(12) Rules and regulations governing the hearing of pending default status and other applicable matters shall be promulgated by the sponsoring hospital.
(13) A license which has been revoked pursuant to this section shall be reinstated upon a showing of proof that the recipient is no longer in default.
(14) Any recipient who is granted paid educational leave by a hospital shall be compensated by such sponsoring hospital during the time the recipient is in school, at the rate of pay received by a nurse's aide employed by such hospital. All educational leave compensation received by the recipient while in school shall be considered earned conditioned upon the fulfillment of the terms and obligations of the educational leave contract and this section. However, no recipient of full-time educational leave shall accrue personal or major medical leave while the recipient is on paid educational leave. Recipients of paid educational leave shall be responsible for their individual costs of tuition and books. Paid educational leave shall be granted only upon the following conditions:
(a) The recipient shall fulfill his or her obligation under the contract with the sponsoring hospital by working as a licensed practical nurse, registered nurse, nurse practitioner, speech pathologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist or other health care professional. The total compensation that the recipient was paid while on educational leave shall be considered as unconditionally earned on an annual pro rata basis for each year of service rendered under the educational leave contract as a health care professional in the sponsoring hospital.
(b) If the recipient does not work as a licensed practical nurse, registered nurse, nurse practitioner, speech pathologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist or other health care professional in the sponsoring hospital for the period required under this section, the recipient shall be liable for repayment on demand of the remaining portion of the compensation that the recipient was paid while on paid educational leave which has not been unconditionally earned, with interest accruing at ten percent (10%) per annum from the recipient's date of graduation or the date that the recipient last worked at the sponsoring hospital, whichever is the later date. In addition, there shall be included in any contract for paid educational leave a provision for liquidated damages equal to Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00), which may be reduced on a pro rata basis for each year served under such contract.
(c) If any recipient fails or withdraws from school at any time before successfully completing his or her health care training, the recipient shall be liable for repayment on demand of the amount of the total compensation that the recipient was paid while on paid educational leave, with interest accruing at ten percent (10%) per annum from the date the recipient failed or withdrew from school. However, the recipient shall not be liable for liquidated damages, and if the recipient returns to work at the sponsoring hospital in the same position held at such hospital prior to accepting educational leave, or a position approved by such hospital, the recipient shall not be liable for payment of any interest on the amount owed.
(d) The issuance and renewal of the professional license required to work as a licensed practical nurse, registered nurse, nurse practitioner, speech pathologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist or other health care professional for which the educational leave was granted shall be contingent upon the repayment of the total compensation that the recipient received while on paid educational leave. Failure to meet the terms of an educational loan contract shall be grounds for revocation of the professional license which was earned through the paid educational leave compensation granted under this section. Any individual who receives any amount of paid educational leave compensation while in school and subsequently receives a professional license shall be deemed to have earned the professional license through paid educational leave.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2003.