PMC Board Chair, Submits Response to Campbell Allegations

In light of the possible Prowers Medical Center Board recall election facing our community, I believe it is important to show our transparency and accountability to voters by responding to the questions raised by Board Members Marge Campbell and Candy Ruedeman.  We know that citizens appreciate the importance of their voting power, and want to be as fully informed as possible, should there be a recall election.  Mrs. Campbell has written letters to local media in which she makes unfounded assertions and assumptions about Board actions.  As Chairman of the Prowers Medical Center’s Board of Directors, I would like to clarify some points of her letter, and remind the community of some other facts that have not been included in the conversation. 

First, she states that “it is my belief my fellow Board Members are most likely the instigators in this matter.”  No Board Member was made aware of the recall request beforehand; we learned of it at the same time as the rest of the community.  No Board Members’ names are on the petition.  While the topic of recall and election official were discussed during meetings, it was due to the departure of Chief Financial Officer Randy Nightengale and the need to appoint an interim CFO to fulfill such duties. 

Second, Mrs. Campbell criticized the approval process for applications to practice at Prowers Medical Center, saying the Board was a “rubber stamp” of the credentials.  The Board is only the hiring body for the Chief Executive Officer and the management company; it is not the hiring body for Prowers Medical Center.  Rather, the Chief Executive Officer is responsible for all staffing and employment for the Hospital of all persons necessary for the functions of the Hospital to be accomplished.  When positions are open, the hospital employees with expertise in medical care serve on peer interview panels to judge the best candidates for the job, and the Board relies on their recommendations.  The Board has neither the authority nor the qualifications to make hiring decisions outside of the recommendation of the hospital staff.  Further, the credentials are available for review before the Board Meetings.  According to the Prowers Medical Center’s Board Bylaws dated April 2003, The Medical Staff shall make recommendations to the Governing Board concerning:  (1) appointments, reappointments, and other changes in staff status; (2) granting of clinical privileges: (3) disciplinary actions; (4) all matters relating to professional competency; and (5) such specific matters as may be referred to it by the governing Board.  Therefore, it is not appropriate or responsible for any Board member to comment on personnel decisions made by hospital hiring committees. 

Next, Mrs. Campbell questioned the integrity of Board Members because of their occupations.  Two members have relationship with a local bank that works with hospital accounts, and a third member is a local realtor.  She asked if the other financial institutions were given an opportunity to participate with financing hospital accounts, and the answer is “yes”.  In 2008, before any of the three members were elected, the Board authorized the sale of patient accounts to local banks, and offered the accounts to the banks in the Hospital District.  These records are open and show that only one bank chose to participate.  The letter sent to the banks stated “We would like to ensure that all local financial institutions have an opportunity to participate in this venture.”  Second, the tour given to potential employees is not a real estate tour; it is a tour of the community as a whole to help them make a decision about coming to Lamar, and if any other business person would like to give community tours they would be welcome to do that. 

Finally, Mrs. Campbell writes that she has done what the public would want done during Board Meetings; however, she has not been willing to fulfill basic requirements of the Board such as completing the administrator’s annual evaluation.  She has also walked out of a Board Meeting before adjournment.  It is important to understand exactly what the Prowers Medical Center Board’s role is.  The Board of Directors has a responsibility to protect the interests of the hospital and to ensure its overall and long-term sustainability; micromanaging Prowers Medical Center’s departments are not only outside the scope of the Board’s function, it undercuts the hard work that Prowers Medical Center’s employees do every day. 

Much criticism has been leveled at the Board’s past behavior, but many positive accomplishments have been overlooked.  In 2008, Prowers Medical Center was on the verge of insolvency, borrowing money to make payroll.  Today the hospital has over five million dollars in reserves, and has also been able to make major equipment purchases to increase the quality and availability of medical services.  We have made structural changes to our operations so that we can offer far more primary care than ever before at much greater convenience to our patients.  Prowers Medical Center has succeeded and grown over the past three years, just as Mrs. Campbell says she wants.  The Board understands its responsibility to the hospital, its employees and our communities, and will continue to ensure that residents of Southeast Colorado can have a home town hospital.

Respectfully submitted,

Jan Hall, Chairman
Prowers County Hospital District
d.b.a. Prowers Medical Center

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