Letter: Search For Details Of The WCH–SSM Agreement

As much as Nashville and surrounding communities seem to want the Washington County Hospital to not become like many small rural hospital casualties which are facing closure, the hospital’s destiny seems to be in the hands of a small Board of Directors who have decided that public awareness of the board’s decisions is not in the best interest of the hospital- they choose to withhold information, instead.
This board has been reluctant to let interested members of the community have timely access to current financial and management reports or to let those who are interested be allowed to participate in their monthly board meeting discussions. Almost all discussion of problem areas is conducted in “closed session”. Although the public is permitted to comment, they must do so, without access to information which provides the basis for the Board’s monthly discussions, until AFTER the monthly business of approving minutes of prior month meetings. Even those minutes are not made available to the public until after the current board meeting is adjourned. The timely discussion of problems and possible solutions takes place, in “closed session”, without public involvement.
It does not need to be that way. If the public is going to be able to help solve problems, they should be invited to join into discussions with the Board members at any meeting, except for certain very limited ( by Open Meetings Act law) discussions of a truly confidential nature. When the Board claims exemption from the Open Meetings Act, those claims can be reviewed by the Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor to determine if the closed session discussions were appropriate.
That is where the search for DETAILS of the recent Management Services Agreement between WCH and SSM Health and Good Samaritan Hospital-Mt. Vernon (“SSM”) has stalled. The Attorney General PAC ( Public Access Counselor) is being asked to review the propriety of refusal by the hospitals to provide DETAIL information regarding the solutions contained in the Agreement.
I am awaiting a response from the PAC office. If you wish to be kept informed about this process, please let me know.

Charles Braly


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