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Letter: Public Has A Right To Details Of WCH-SSM Deal

A special Washington County Hospital Board meeting was called in July 2017 to discuss development of a long overdue Strategic Plan for the fiscal year 2018 ending April 30, 2018. That plan was never revealed to the public, nor has any related activity been shared with the public in open monthly Board meetings.
Since July 2017, the WCH Board has spent approximately $130,000 in legal fees and over $400,000 to Medicare as repayment of inappropriate billings from WCH’s cardiac rehabilitation department.
Through March 31, 2018, the Washington County Hospital is showing a net loss from operations of ($1,044,161). The previous year’s 11 month results were even worse, with ($1,483,082) loss from operations.
The WCH Board has apparently been busy trying to bring the situation under control and apparently has been trying to make changes. However, DETAILS of various legal expenditures and negotiations with SSM hospital have been hidden in closed session meetings, hidden behind “attorney client privilege” and a “confidentiality agreement” which has allowed them to keep the public from being informed about DETAILS. They have failed to openly disclose the issues that are now affecting WCH and which will continue to affect Washington County Hospital in the future.
It is time for public disclosure and discussion of DETAILS of the agreement which was announced in last week’s newspaper. Instead, the WCH Board has hidden behind its “confidentiality agreement” and, only at the end of negotiations, decided to announce how wonderful this new arrangement is going to be, without disclosing any DETAILS to the public prior to entering the agreement.
The Board and administration have failed to meet their Open Meetings Act mandate for open discussion. WCH has previously had affiliation agreements with SSM. What will be different?
SSM and WCH recently paid for a study from consultants Plante Moran, to develop a ten-year plan. It is time for them to share DETAILS of that plan with the community. It is time for the public to demand full disclosure and some open discussion regarding the DETAILS of the agreement which has the potential for significant impact on our community.
If you are truly interested in the survival and operations of Washington County Hospital, contact Board members to discuss this situation: Chairman Matt Bierman, Dale Blohm, Audrey Finke, Brad Haege, Eric Ibendahl, Bill Manier, Mark McCleary, Dave Nierman, Brad Holzhauer.

Charles Braly

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