MONTROSE – The governance of Montrose Memorial Hospital has been sharply debated for the past two years, dividing hospital leadership against Montrose County commissioners, with each side claiming their actions best serve the general citizenry.
Following years of litigation, each new decision regarding the hospital is closely scrutinized.
On Monday, the Montrose County Commissioners approved the appointment of Olathe resident Bruce Ray to the hospital’s Board of Trustees to fill a position vacated by Debra Harmon, who also serves as chair of the Montrose Memorial Hospital Board of Directors.
In 2010, the Montrose Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees leased the county-owned medical facility to a new nonprofit, Montrose Memorial Hospital Inc., and appointed themselves the new organization’s board of directors. The county challenged the lease, alleging that the board violated state open meeting laws and entered into the lease away from public inspection and transferred a county asset, including cash, to the new nonprofit private corporation. Both the Montrose District Court and Colorado Court of Appeals ruled against the county.
As a result, the hospital now operates under two boards. The MMHI Board of Directors, which manages the hospital’s operations, continues to meet in the hospital’s board room, while the MMH board of trustees meets in the offices of Region 10, located at 300 North Cascade Avenue. The trustee’s duties include monthly inspections of the hospital, twice-yearly and monthly financial reports to the BOCC and upholding the requirements of the lease. While appointment to the MMHI board of directors is decided by its sitting members, the county commissioners fill vacancies to the MMH board of trustees.
In December, the commissioners – Gary Ellis, David White, Ron Henderson – appointed Olathe resident Richard Harding to fill a vacancy left by Nancy Medlock of Montrose. Medlock resigned from the board citing disappointment over commissioners Henderson and White’s use of her picture in a 2012 re-election campaign mailer created by a local marketing firm. Medlock had been a campaign donor and supporter of both candidates who were re-elected in November.
Harding, an outspoken supporter of the county commissioners and a longtime critic of hospital leadership, wasted little time getting involved in hospital issues. Two weeks after being appointed, he suggested to the BOCC on Dec. 20 that the county replace the entire board of trustees, citing concerns about financial reports, hospital inspection, and the board’s leasing of an office space without the county’s permission.
The three commissioners decided not to replace the board.
On Friday, Jan. 4, hospital trustees voted to direct board attorney David Masters to draft a letter to the BOCC asking permission for the board to lease the Region 10 office as its official meeting place.
Meanwhile, there is one remaining vacancy on the hospital board of trustees, created by the departure of trustee Diana Reams, who resigned after a lack of attendance.
According to the county, Harding was the only applicant for the seat vacated by Medlock.
Anyone wanting to apply for the seat can contact Sandy Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting the county office at 161, S. Townsend Avenue. For additional information call 970/249-7755.