The Grant County commissioners have been gathering information on health care and hospitals, including Gila Regional Medical Center for more than a year. Commissioners began the process in March 2017, when the hospital was facing dire financial issues. In June 2017, they approved a contractor with perceived expertise, Juniper Advisory.
The Juniper Advisory website states its principles: Juniper was founded on the belief that a critical need exists in the hospital industry for an advisory firm which is both qualified to provide experienced and dedicated strategic advice and free of potential conflicts of interest created within larger, multi-product financial service companies.
Sounds good, right? But if you look at Transactions on the website, the first one is expanding. The rest state so-and-so medical center has been acquired by mostly large national firms or have merged or formed a joint venture or entered into a management agreement.
But in the list, other than the one outfit that was expanding, nothing anywhere [that this editor can find] says anything about a hospital staying under the same management and ownership. Maybe those don't make the transactions list because Juniper doesn't get a commission in that case. But they are being paid to consult.
Ok, I don't have the reams of information that the commissioners tell us they have received over the year. And how hard it is to make a decision because of all they have learned. Do they have too much confusing and conflicting information?
I fear that some of the commissioners, although they all have said they have made no decision and are totally open-minded, had already made up their minds on what they wanted the outcome to be.
Call me cynical, realistic or paranoid.
What the commissioners seemingly did not take into account when they jumped into this consulting agreement was that the Gila Regional Board of Trustees was in the process of naming a new Chief Executive Officer, who came on board about the time the commissioners were approving the contractor.
Were they so far into the process that they couldn't back out and give the new CEO a chance? Seemingly so.
To say I was disappointed at the outcome of more than an hour and a half executive session on Tuesday and the multiple executive sessions on the same issue over the months. and to have them come out and have Commissioner Brett Kasten declare they had made no decision, may be the understatement of the day. An unrehearsed, unexpected expletive exploded from my lips. You can see it or hear it on the recording, I'm sure. I'm sorry, but not ashamed. I was livid.
It was my completely accurate feeling. Several of the commissioners in conversations over the past few days have assured me a vote would be made today.
Mostly I was angry at their seeming disregard and inability to understand the strain and stress on the community, and especially on those who provide our excellent care at the hospital.
Kasten's comment: "It has to be done right," does not bring me any comfort or assurance that a decision will be made any time soon.
In life, one has to make decisions all the time. Sometimes, they are not the right decision, but also sometimes people get "overs," where when a situation changes a better decision can be made.
You're never going to have all the information and, as for "getting it right," just do it, and let the chips fall where they may. Your "right," Mr. Commissioner, may not be the same "right" as what the rest of us think.
It is NOT fair to the hospital, to the caregivers, to the community to be kept hanging like this.
The hospital has a strategic plan to move forward and bring it out of the ills of the past, but recruitment cannot go forward, because those being recruited can't be left with uncertainty, either.
I wonder, too, if the commissioners are listening or even hearing what their constituents have to say. Physicians have stated they will leave if the hospital changes hands. Do they really want our doctors to leave the community in a lurch?
My hope is that an as-soon-as-possible special meeting will bring closure to this unnecessary intrigue and mystery to why a decision cannot be made.
Your legacy, Mr. or Ms. Commissioner, will not hinge on whether you make a mistake, unless you kill one of the best things that this community has going for it—excellent caring care in our community hospital.
Just make a decision.