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Elected Boards No Way to Run a Hospital

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, March 31, 2011

But these reports tell only part of this difficult story. Public documents and news stories say the board member at the center of the fracas faces felony vote-swapping charges filed by the county District Attorney, to which she pled not guilty in December.

A restraining order bars her from entering the hospital and a civil suit wants her to pay $100,000 in damages for allegedly causing harm to the hospital's reputation, battery on security guards, and trespassing, documents and press reports say.

Now that board member participates in meetings only by telephone from a separate building in the parking lot. Hospital personnel say they now fear for their personal safety, according to one news account.

But the antics continue. News reports say the board member in question has retaliated against fellow board members by calling them "Nazis," and district employees "dangerous" and "thugs." She proclaims her innocence, and says the accusations against her are "a ruthless and lawless effort to usurp the constituents [she] represents." (She did not respond to a request for comment.) 

"It's so many crazy things," acknowledges Schallock, who notes that board members even called security guards on one occasion fearing that the board member might "have a gun."

"Most of the fighting is about petty stuff, but the petty stuff becomes big stuff," he says.

Last year, the board held a peacemaking meeting at a restaurant but the dinner "by all accounts, devolved into yelling and napkin throwing and drove away customers seated nearby," according to an August report in The San Diego Union-Tribune.

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2 comments on "Elected Boards No Way to Run a Hospital"


Kevin T Kavanagh, MD (4/6/2011 at 12:26 PM)
The primary fiduciary responsibilty of a non-profit hospital board is NOT to the facility but to charitable purponses and the public. According to Lois Lerner, Director of the IRS Exempt Organization Division, for hospitals: "To qualify for tax-exemption, they must show that they provide benefit to a class of people, broad enough to benefit the community, and they must be operated to serve a public rather than a private interest." Source: Statement by Lois Lerner, Director of the IRS Exempt Organizations Division, on the IRS Report on Nonprofit Hospitals, at a Press Briefing, Feb. 12, 2009 http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-tege/lernerstatement_hospitalproject_021209.pdf

Linda O (3/31/2011 at 4:15 PM)
Unless the courts step in, there will be no process for self-governance and self-correction. It's a shame to place the patients and employees at risk.