PMC Recall Election Initiated for Ruedeman, Campbell

Local residents, as well as some PMC board members were taken by surprise, by the announcement of a recall petition drive for two of the newest members of the Prowers Medical Center board of directors, Candy Ruedeman and Marge Campbell. 

The paper work, initiated by PMC employees, Barbara Kuenzel and Joan Hanff, was passed through the Prowers County District Court last Thursday, August 25.  The Petition initiative states that there are other members of the recall declaration, “whom wish to remain anonymous at this time.” 

Audrey Kane, the interim chief financial officer of Prowers Medical Center has been appointed as the Designated Election Official.  She took over the CFO duties of Randy Nightengale, who left PMC two months ago.  Prowers County Clerk and Recorder Jana Coen said the vote will be conducted by Kane in the Prowers Medical Center Hospital District and limited to registered voters in that region.  The district encompasses Prowers and a portion of Baca County, but Kane said that portion of Baca County has no registered voters.  The logistics of the recall election will follow the revised state statutes for Colorado.  Once Kane determines the statutes have been met; the petitioners will have 60 days in which to collect 300 authorized signatures per person for the vote to move forward.  Kane said there is no timetable set for that right now, but each set of the 300 signatures will have to be verified.  The recall will not progress if 300 signatures cannot be found.  The recall will be set to a majority rule ballot, with one vote needed for each board member to determine if they will be recalled. 

Kane said the cost of conducting the recall vote will determine whether the balloting will be done by mail or at a designated location.  How quickly the signatures can be collected within the 60 day window will be an additional factor on the election time table.   

The reasons for the recall drive for both Campbell and Ruedeman are listed in the petition application.  While some reasons are generalized, there are few specifics, such as names, dates or hospital departments that have been listed in the Reasoning-For Cause Statement.  It is not known if any additional information will become available to the public, either through press releases or a type of public forum so voters will have a basis on how to determine their ballot.

Jan Hall, Prowers Medical Center board chairman said that hospital employees, not the board members, are behind the recall petition drive.  Hall stated, “The hospital has come a long way in the past three years, from financially hanging by a thread at a million dollars in the hole, to having a $5 million reserve.  We’re recruiting new doctors and purchasing new equipment, and I don’t want this to reflect negatively on all the work done by the hospital employees and the board.”  He added, “I’ve always felt strongly that the board members stay out of the day to day operations of the hospital.  We have management that has been educated in that field, and if management is not doing that good a job, it’s the board’s responsibility to bring in new management.”  Hall said there has been past disagreement among board members, with one area centering on the role taken by Quorum Health Resources.  Both Ruedeman and Campbell have expressed their beliefs that the arrangement with the hospital management company should be discontinued.  Hall said that Quorum operates under a three year contract with PMC.  He added, “I might ask for a special meeting with all board members, but that would take a majority vote to bring about.  And if we decide to meet, as the recall petition was not initiated by the other board members,  we couldn’t discuss that as it will follow its own course with the election.  We could be educated on the steps that would have to be followed if the recall election does go through.”

By Russ Baldwin


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