Council’s choice for health board goes unapproved

Published 6:02 pm Monday, June 29, 2015

The Tombigbee Healthcare Authority Board that represents Bryan Whitfield Memorial Hospital did not approve the latest new member recommendation to that board offered by the Demopolis City Council.
The council had approved by a vote of 3-2 to recommend Riley Wells as the new member to the hospital board during a meeting last week. The council had a list of five candidates — three of those came from a list of recommended candidates from the hospital board while two others, including Wells, were suggested by the council.
According to hospital board officials, state law allows for the council to approve a majority of the members of a healthcare authority board. In the case of the local hospital board there are nine total members meaning the council would approve a total of five board members. However, an amendment to that law, according to Hospital Board Chairman Jay Shows, requires the city council to approve members from a list of recommended candidates provided by the hospital board.
“When the act was amended in the 1990s, one thing that was changed is how boards are appointed,” Shows said. “It stated that the governing board would continue to appoint the majority of members to the board, but that they must select from a list of candidates provided by the hospital board.”
Shows said the local hospital board has been slower than others across the state in implementing the change.
“We are probably one of the last (healthcare authority boards) in the state to implement this process. The previous board began the implementation of the process and the current board is continuing to move it forward,” he said.
The current vacancy on the hospital board came about with the resignation of Jim Grantham.
Demopolis Mayor Mike Grayson said the council will have to discuss the board appointment further and that it is important for the city and hospital to work together.
“At this time more discussion needs to be done. We want to support the hospital; its success is crucial to the goals we have for the future of our community. The council will need to come together and decide how to proceed,” Grayson said.
Shows said he felt the process could have gone more smoothly with better communication between the hospital board and the city council.
“Our position in regard to the board appointment was communicated very poorly to the members of the council and I take the blame for that,” Shows said. “We need to communicate more clearly and directly about things that are being done differently from the past.”
Shows said he has visited with, and sent a letter of apology, to the Demopolis mayor and city council members.