County ties grant to hospital board appointments
The Las Animas County commissioners, during a tense meeting Tuesday, passed a resolution imposing conditions on the awarding of the $500,000 Rural Healthcare Initiative grant to Mt. San Rafael Hospital.
The county commissioners want the Trinidad Area Health Association (TAHA) board to allow the county and city to each ‚€œappoint‚€Ě at least one member of the TAHA board, conduct all meetings as ‚€œopen public meetings,‚€Ě and secure ‚€œall necessary funding‚€Ě for the remodeling ‚€œover and above the amount of funds‚€Ě provided by the county via the grant.
Hospital Administrator Carolyn Riley said the second two conditions ‚€” open meetings and obtaining other funding over and above the half-million dollar grant ‚€” are already in the works.
It is the first condition ‚€” allowing the commissioners and city council to ‚€œappoint‚€Ě board members ‚€” that may cause the TAHA board to balk.
During the discussion prior to the resolution vote, Riley told the commissioners that TAHA‚€™s articles of incorporation, ‚€œProhibit having elected officials on the TAHA board. The intent is to keep politics out of the board room. If the county commissioners or council appoint a board member, the appointee would be a surrogate of the county commissioners or the city council.‚€Ě
Riley noted that any appointee would be beholden to the entity that made the appointment, and wouldn‚€™t be able to segregate political interests from TAHA business.
‚€œWe would be very disappointed to see health care tied to politicization. This is exactly what the (TAHA) board was trying to avoid ‚€” the politicization of the board,‚€Ě Riley said.
Commission Chairman Robert Valdez suggested that TAHA should ‚€œchange your bi-laws ‚€” your articles of incorporation can be changed,‚€Ě prior to the unanimous vote. He said the commissioners would ‚€œleave it to the TAHA board to accept or deny the resolution‚€¶I would ask them to consider this.‚€Ě
The commission action was taken after TAHA President Dr. Robert Carlisle presented a letter to the board that suggested a compromise to the resolution. He wrote, ‚€œThe hospital board voted to offer the county commissioners and city council the opportunity to nominate three individuals each from the community for consideration for board membership. The TAHA board would select one of the three individuals for each of the two positions.‚€Ě
Carlisle‚€™s letter makes reference to a Dec. 6 discussion with city and county officials in which this proposal was made.
In essence, the county wants to be able to appoint members to the TAHA board, but the TAHA board wants to allow only the ‚€œnomination‚€Ě by city and county and retain the authority to choose the new board member. Both entities believe their proposal will make the TAHA board more publicly accountable.
Riley Wednesday said the TAHA board would take up the matter of the resolution, and scheduled a press conference for Friday afternoon to announce the board‚€™s response. She speculated that the TAHA board may vote to accept the grant, but reject the conditions placed on it by the commissioners with regards to the appointment of TAHA board members.
The $500,000 Rural Healthcare Initiative grant is slated to be used to help bring the business office and the emergency room waiting area into compliance with state standards. The hospital recently put up a $1 million certificate of deposit to collateralize a loan with which remodeling of the operating rooms will be accomplished.
Source: Trinidad Times Independent - 16 DEC 2005; by Ken Reamy