Let me preface this letter with the fact that I have been in health care for more than 25 years, most of it on the management side. With the recent turmoil that has occurred at your community hospital, I feel there are citizens of Cloud County with valid questions that demand answers.
Let’s start with some information that can’t be argued.
The Role of a health care Board of Directors as defined by the Office of Inspector General of the US Department of Health and Human Services is:
1. To establish policies–well-written policies lead to efficient functioning of the Board.
2. To make strategic and significant decisions
3. To oversee the organization’s activities
The Responsibilities of the Board include:
1. Selection of a CEO and monitoring the progress of said CEO
2. Establishing the direction of the organization
3. Financial oversight
4. Community relationships and finally,
5. Ethical standards are determined by the behavior of the Board. The Board decides what behavior will or will not be tolerated.
With all this information in hand, several questions arise concerning the way the past and present Boards of Cloud County Health Center have dealt with troubling issues. As I understand it, the Board was approached and informed of concerns by several employees. These concerns were ignored and if they were not ignored, the employees perceived it that way. Several resignations of long term administrative employees occurred without raising an eyebrow. The Administrative Team, which had for years attended the board meetings, were no longer allowed to attend. Why? With that change, the Board was only getting information from one person. Why? Was there something to hide? That red flag had spotlights on it!
The final red flag and a wake-up call: a termination of a loyal employee of 15 years that shocked the entire staff of the hospital, all due to a total and deliberate lack of communication. The Board received e-mails, phone calls and letters regarding this situation. There was no documentation of any kind to support termination. No disciplinary actions, ever; good annual performance evaluations, although no evaluations have been given the last two years.
Surely there are policies regarding annual evaluations, and some kind of documentation required to defend the termination of a staff member. Did this person cheat, steal or threaten the safety of a patient? Was there ever any coaching of the employee to make them better? What was the end result supposed to be, besides someone just throwing their weight around, and trying to wreck a career? I am well aware of the “at will” law. This is not about the law.
It is well known the Board of CCHC is voluntary, made up of successful and influential members of the community, but even volunteers should be held accountable for their actions and required to do a good job. Boards are expected to make the difficult decisions, do the right thing and, above all, to have some courage. Decisions should not always be business based but morally and ethically based.
The push for a bigger/better hospital will probably never come to pass as the Board can’t seem to manage the one they have. All credibility has been lost. CCHC has not lifted a finger to fight the unemployment claim. They know they are in the wrong. I would have to agree with the unemployment judge, this is the biggest mess I have ever seen.
Shaking my head,
Teri Light RNC, BSN