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GLH Board Member says the hospital minutes are incomplete, plans to file ethics complaint

Tuesday, May 17, 2022, 2:14 pm News Flash Archive

Today, the Greenwood Leflore Hospital Board of Trustees held its regular monthly meeting.

According to the financial report provided by Mrs. Dawne Holmes, the Hospital had an overall loss of $1.91 million in April, somewhat better than the loss of $2.57 million in March. Operating expenses were $9.5 million, while operating revenue was $7.6 million

At the end of April, the usable cash reserves, after netting out the deferred revenue and the Medicare short term loan which must be paid back, are $6.48 million. The cash burn for April was $520,000.

The board went into executive session and excluded the media and the public for 30 minutes.

Ms. Tracy Shelton, a hospital board member, made a statement to the press stating that the minutes of the board are incomplete, and therefore she voted against approving them at the meeting.

According to Shelton, the minutes that the board is given by management are "incomplete and inconclusive," but when she asked to receive a recording of the meetings, GLH CEO Jason Studley informed her that only partial recordings existed.

Shelton stated that she is going to file a complaint with the Ethics Commission about the incomplete minutes. The Ethics Commission has jurisdiction to enforce the Public Records Act, which includes the accuracy and completeness of the minutes of public bodies such as the hospital.

She further stated that the full contracts are never provided to the board members before they vote to approve them, and then after they vote to approve them, the contracts "are not what we really agreed upon."

"We cannot afford to lose our hospital, but at the same time, we've got to change the way we're handling our business," Shelton explained.

Studley stated in reply to Shelton's claim that board members are given incomplete minutes, "that's her opinion."

Shelton also expressed concern about the contracts with physicians that have lapsed. She stated that there were at least six such expired contracts.

Shelton stated that the board attorney, Tom Flanagan, explained to her that the dollar amounts of the contracts are not placed in the minutes because they aren't supposed to be made public. Minutes, of course, are public records.

Shelton stated that the hospital "shouldn't have to lay off and terminate" employees, but that appears to be what management intends to do.

Under Mississippi state law, all contracts of public bodies, as well as all wages and salaries, are matters of public record.

But the Legislature exempted public hospitals from large swaths of the public records law, so that hospitals may keep all contracts and salaries secret from the public.

That creates a problem, since by state law, a public body such as a city, county, or hospital must include all the terms of every contract in its minutes in order for the contract to be valid.

The Attorney General has opined that in the case of secret contracts (which hospitals are allowed to have), the terms of the contracts should be included in the "executive session minutes," which do not have to be revealed to the public.

From what Ms. Shelton claims, it seems that this has not been done.

Without access to full minutes, and copies of contracts, it is almost impossible for the press or members of the public to investigate the propriety or legality of the hospital's business.

This has been a continuing concern for decades. Hospitals are not required to keep the contracts secret, but Greenwood Leflore Hospital has decided to do so up to this point, and the law permits them to do so if they like.

The Board of Trustees meeting may be viewed here: GLH Board Meeting, May 17, 2022

John Pittman Hey
The Taxpayers Channel

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