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Hospital Board Answers Grand Jury

POSTED June 29, 2011 9:06 a.m.

During the Oak Valley Hospital monthly meeting on Wednesday, June 22, the governing board released its written response to the Grand Jury Report from May 5 regarding Brown Act violations and not following established policy on awarding bids.

The Grand Jury’s report criticized the board for not following its public agendas, how their public meetings were conducted, releasing confidential closed-door meeting information, and discussing board related information via email. It also emphasized that the current governing board that was in place after the November 2010 elections corrected the meeting law violations before and during the course of the grand jury investigation.

In his response to the Grand Jury, Hospital CEO John Friel noted that he concurred that some previous meeting agendas lacked specificity and more clarity was needed in them, but there was no intent to mislead.

In regard to correcting the matter, Friel wrote, “These issues had all been identified by the current Board and were corrected prior to or during the time of the Grand Jury investigation.”

Friel wrote that he was not aware of any release of confidential information and may not have been “in the email chain” of any board-related information discussed via email.

Friel also acknowledged that the hospital did not adhere to its own policies in awarding a remodeling bid. He noted that once the error was brought to their attention, the bid was re-issued according to proper guidelines.

The board also announced that annual Brown Act training would be administered and they would have legal counsel available during meetings via teleconference as necessary.

“We responded to the best way of our ability with the information we were given,” said Board Director Dan Cummins.

After the meeting, Board President Wendell Chun commented that he has implemented more public speaking time to allow the public to not only speak at the public comments section of the meetings, but to also allow anyone to address the board when agenda items were being discussed.

“I’m a strong advocate for being open and hearing from the citizens,” Chun said.

During the meeting the board also announced a “Futures Committee” that would explore the best direction for the hospital when the 15-year contract with Catholic Healthcare West runs out. The committee consists of Chun, Friel, and six other individuals on the board or hospital staff.

Both Chun and CHW Representative Donald Wiley stressed that the relationship between CHW and the hospital was positive and the fact that options were being examined should not be read in to.

“We’re looking at what’s best for the hospital,” Chun said.

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