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Hospital Board Tables Decision On Foundation

POSTED April 30, 2013 11:27 p.m.

After taking public criticism for voting to shut down its popular maternity ward a few months ago, Oak Valley Hospital officials are considering another controversial decision – disassociation with the well-liked and admired Oak Valley Hospital Foundation.

At its April 24 Governing Board meeting, the Oak Valley Board of Directors had an agenda item to discuss a report by board member Louise Sanders on the Oak Valley Foundation and the “Recommendation of Subcommittee.”

No additional information was given on its agenda; however Board President Dan Cummins had contacted Foundation President Sandra Sward-West and advised her to attend.

At the meeting, Cummins moved the agenda item as the first item to be addressed.

Louise Sanders told the board that while reviewing the long-term plans for the hospital’s viability and the current method of operation for raising funds, the hospital wanted to study further whether or not to disassociate itself with the Oak Valley Foundation.

Sanders asked for additional time until the Aug. 28 board meeting to make a final recommendation. Sanders said she had spoken with foundation members but felt the view was “too narrow” and sought a “larger pool of people” for input on how the hospital should proceed.

Last year, a consultant recommended dissolving the Foundation’s current executive board in favor of allowing a newly-appointed director hired by the hospital’s CEO that would seek funds through philanthropic activity, grant writing, and special events.

That recommendation did not sit well with the Foundation or members of the community.

At the meeting Sward-West addressed the board and told the board that she thought she had been assisting them with a plan for the future.

Sward-West continued that she felt “knocked down” when former Foundation director, Amy Thompson, was fired by the hospital in August 2011 and said she’s asked for capital items for fundraising without success.

Former Foundation trustee Dan Titus told the board that he felt “very sorry” that the hospital has come to the point of disassociation with the Foundation.

“I don’t think you realize the value of the Foundation,” said Titus. “We feel we’ve been disrespected.”

During discussion of the item, board member Jim Teter, who also sits on the subcommittee, stated no action should be taken and wanted more “due diligence to get a better handle on this.”

Board member Wendell Chun questioned why the agenda only stated “Recommendation of Subcommittee.”

“There may have been others here who would have wanted to comment,” Chun said, had it been more informative.

The board unanimously approved tabling the recommendation until Aug. 28.

“What does this say on where our hospital is heading when you get rid of maternity and now get rid of a popular fundraising organization?” asked past Foundation President Liza Cotton after the meeting.

Sward-West said she was shocked that the board was asking them to be a more philanthropic organization but prior to the meeting CEO John McCormick approached her and in front of the audience told her the hospital would not need anything this year for women’s health.

The Oak Valley Foundation is planning its annual Wine, Women, and Chocolate Extravaganza on May 13. Proceeds from that event go toward women’s health and wellness.

“I took it as a hint of things to come,” said Sward-West. “The Foundation does more than just that and is on a wider spectrum.”

The Oak Valley Hospital Foundation was established in 1980 for the purpose of purchasing an ambulance for the hospital. Since then it has grown and developed as an integral part of the community with wide support whose sole purpose is to secure voluntary donations to improve and enhance services for patients at Oak Valley Hospital.

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