Hed: Montrose County, Hospital Board Call Truce After Conflict
MONTROSE – The war between them may not be over, but at least the Montrose County Commissioners and the Montrose Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees are now engaged in peace talks.
The conflict began when the hospital board announced on Oct. 15 that it had decided that the county-owned hospital would be leased to a new nonprofit, Montrose Memorial Hospital Inc. Several members of the hospital board, who were appointed by the Montrose Board of County Commissioners, had met for five months in secret, without a quorum, to make plans for the organization, said Board Chairman Steve Glassmann, and without telling the public or the commissioners.
That infuriated the county commissioners, who held a public hearing about the hospital board’s proposal a week later, which only one hospital boardmember attended. Commissioners discussed firing the entire hospital board at the meeting, but learned they had to give 30 days notice. In the meantime, the hospital board was trying to make the new nonprofit official by Nov. 1.
One of the reasons the board gave for making the hospital a separate nonprofit was the fear that three budget-crippling measures on the Nov. 2 ballot would pass and decimate the hospital’s budget.
The measures all failed, but not before the county filed a lawsuit to seek an injunction against the hospital board to stop the nonprofit transaction, and the hospital board tried to get a temporary restraining order against the county.
Before talks began on Monday, mistrust was evident on both sides. Glassman said the county commissioners were kept in the dark because of fears that the commissioners were trying to sell the hospital and would quash the nonprofit deal. Commissioner David White complained that the board “simply didn’t have the decency to notify us of what they intended….”
All that animosity seems to be in the past with the release of a joint statement late Tuesday by both the county and the hospital board, even though it gave little indication as to how the talks were going.
The statement said the two entities were meeting “to discuss the hospital trustees’ action to lease the hospital by creating a nonprofit corporation… both groups have agreed to exchange information….”
Representatives from both sides gave quotes in the statement that shed little light on what is going on behind closed doors.
“Both groups are working for the benefit of the hospital and the citizens of our community,” Glassman said in the released statement.
“Both sides are optimistic and we feel we are making progress,” said Commissioner Ron Henderson.
The commissioners and hospital board will continue their discussions, which are not open to the public or the press, on Nov. 16, according to Montrose County.