WCH Board Refuses Request For Board Packets To Be Released Prior To Meeting
After announcing in late November that he planned to work with Concerned Supporters of Washington County Hospital in a more cooperative and transparent manner, Victor Lopez, WCH Board Chairman, has decided to leave old barriers in place which significantly limit any community involvement.
Anyone who has attended WCH Board meetings in the past has been faced with restrictions which prevent timely access to information. Topics to be discussed at a Board meeting are accompanied by explanatory reports and documents which the Board uses during the meeting as they review them for action. CSWCH has requested access to this same information, at the same time it is offered to Board Members. That request has been refused.
Without such access, the public is expected to simply sit on their hands and listen to a few comments as Board members move towards acceptance of the information in the Board packets. Without being given access to the material before and during the meeting, the public has no way of knowing any details of what is being considered. They are expected to simply sit and watch as Board members flip pages. The Board normally receives such information a week in advance. The Public should be offered the same access.
If the Board truly wants the community’s involvement and support, they must treat them as partners. That would encourage an informed public which should be welcomed to open meetings discussions. That requires treatment as equals. The Board cannot continue to consider itself a kingdom unto itself, where anyone NOT on the Board is considered an intruder whose opinions are to be stifled by limiting their access to information until after all decisions are made by the board.
This is such a simple request. If Victor Lopez had truly intended to modify behavior of the past and enter the new year with a spirit of cooperation, he and his board would have granted the request. They know full well that they must provide the information AFTER the end of the Board meeting. Why in the world would they not want input from an informed audience, enabling them to provide opinions about the agenda items, before voting is concluded? Informed opinions could be provided in writing, or verbally and should not disrupt meetings.
If the Board wants cooperation, it should act with a spirit of cooperation. Secrecy definitely does not suggest such a spirit.
Charles Braly, CSWCH
Concerned Supporters of Washington County Hospital