More Arguments Heard on PMC Recall Petition

Prowers Medical Center, board recall petitioners, have about one month left to collect 300 approved signatures to initiate a recall vote for members Candy Ruedeman and Marge Campbell.  That many registered voters are needed on the petitions to hold a recall vote for either member.  Once the petitions were approved, the petitioners had 60 days to collect the needed signatures from the Prowers Hospital District’s registered voters for approval. 

Two public meetings have been held regarding the reasons the petitions were originated.  The most recent, this past Tuesday, Oct 4, was considered an official board meeting as it involved three of the five members,  Chairman Jan Hall,  Joe Spitz and Gene Cruikshank.  Because those three were enough to comprise a quorum, the hearing was considered a board meeting.  The hearing followed the weekly meeting hosted by Voices of Southeast Colorado at the Lamar Community Building.  A similar meeting involving Ruedeman and Campbell was held by Voices the week before, but was not an official board meeting, because there weren’t sufficient board members to make up a quorum.  Both women were present this past Tuesday. 

Although Spitz, Hall and Cruikshank have publicly stated they are not responsible for the petition and are not members of the committee, some statements involving the members have been played out in related news articles and letters to the editors of both this publication and The Lamar Ledger.   

The initiating paperwork names Prowers Medical Center employees, Barbara Kuenzel, Joan Hanff and Connie Hill on the recall committee.  Some members have wished to remain anonymous.  Campbell has stated her belief that board members Cruikshank, Hall and Spitz are responsible for the petition.  She said she has not sought medications from the hospital pharmacy to supply her patients in her employment with an independent ambulance company and is not “throwing her weight around with hospital employees” from her position as board member, and is tired of dealing with half told lies about her actions as a board member.  Ruedeman also explained that in her capacity as a registered nurse in the community, she has come to know a great many people employed at the hospital and has taken the time to visit and speak with them.  She stated her departure from the hospital over twenty years ago has not influenced her current actions as the people involved aren’t even there any more. 

Kuenzel explained for the gathering that the petitions reflect the discussions she has had with other PMC employees who generally feel there has been too much interference in the hospital’s day to day operations by Ruedeman and Campbell, and their presence has interfered with how the hospital staff does their job. 

Board chairman Jan Hall said the board is facing two main challenges, for all board members to be able to work together and keep small differences from becoming big ones.  The other concerns the hospital’s relationship with a medical management company, QHR, Quorum Health Services.   Hall stated that since the new board has been working more closely with QHR, the hospital’s financial improvements began.  Hall said PMC has gone from a $1M deficit to having $5M in reserves.  He believes the board should set direction for the hospital management, but should not be involved in day to day operations. Regarding hospital hiring and promotion practices, specifically awarding a promotion to an employee without a degree, Joe Spitz replied to that question that he employs  250 people and promotes on ability and lets performance dictate who gets advanced.  On the question of the recall, he said he supports the petition and the work being done by QHR.  Gene Cruikshank said years ago he had experience with a recall petition as a board member and that personal bitterness lingers.  He said this situation is “very tough” but he favors the recall for Campbell, but not Rudedman.  Hall also supports the recall petition, stating that we can’t go forward with a “bottlenecking” board. 

Dr. Gerry Branes, local dentist, drew a round of applause from most members of the Tuesday gathering when he stated that the level of animosity among board members needs to be curtailed and asked if board members thought that egos could be set aside for the good of the hospital and community in general. 

If either Campbell or Ruedeman is recalled by a majority of the voters, Kuenzel said the statutes call for the recall committee, not the board of directors, to appoint two interested persons to serve as board members for the remainder of their terms.  The voters will decide by a majority vote if both, one, or none named in the petition are recalled.  Once the necessary signatures have been provided to Audrey Kane, the Director of Elections at the hospital, and approved, she will set the date and the means for the election.  She stated earlier that the cost consideration for the election will determine if the vote is by a mailed ballot, or would be in-person.  If there are not enough valid petition signatures for either Ruedeman or Campbell, there will not be a recall election.

By Russ Baldwin


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