People should maintain stake in hospital governance

Posted: Thursday, July 15, 2010

As noted in Sunday's Clarion (July 11), it is obvious that the current push to get out from under Central Peninsula Hospital's current governance structure is coming directly from CPH's current administration. The Clarion article quotes CEO Ryan Smith as saying, "(CPH's current partnership with the borough) is a very cumbersome structure to work within" and that "it really slows down the process, which would be problematic in a competitive environment."

Translated, it seems that CPH administration wants to be able to do whatever it wants to do and whenever it wants to do it, relieved of current borough governance with the reason given that CPH administration needs such freedom in order to act quickly and remain competitive.

Well, maybe. Current CPH administration has been somewhat problematic -- marked by labor unrest, NLRB disputes challenging the hospital's employee policies, a workplace-bullying seminar, the shooting, and more. The hospital's current CFO sits on the board of the area's most divisive nonprofit, KRSA. Administration is now pushing for change in CPH's governance structure. CPH asks for funding from area residents through its Health Foundation while at the same time dispensing tens of thousands of dollars to area non-profits while remaining closed-mouthed about some such donations when questioned. If CPH has so much money they can give it away, why not rather establish a full-service Hospice, which our area needs?

In The Evolution of Civilizations, historian Carroll Quigley notes that societies devise "instruments" to satisfy social needs. And that describes the how and why our area residents brought CPH into existence -- to meet social needs. Quigley notes further that "all social instruments tend to become institutions," and that "An institution is an instrument that has taken on activities and purposes of its own, separate from and different from the purposes for which it was intended." That brings us to today.

By seeking to get out from under current borough governance, CPH administration is essentially seeking to further institutionalize our area hospital. The question before area residents is thus whether an increasingly institutionalized hospital will better meet the needs of area residents or are we better off to keep things as they are with some fine-tuning.

Who knows? To my mind we either allow CPH's current administration its wishes to be free from current borough governance or we move in the other direction by keeping things as they are except for making membership in CPGH Inc., the hospital's governing board, an elected position, as is done with Homer Electric. Currently, CPGH Inc. members are appointed by existing board members.

We citizens can relinquish our oversight of CPH or we can keep things as they are and increase our oversight by electing our hospital's board members. The choice is ours, and that choice should be put to vote of the people.

John Nelson


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