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Foundation, Board Divided - Oak Valley Advisors Report Creates Rift
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An Oak Valley Hospital consultant’s recommendation to dissolve the Oak Valley Foundation’s current executive board in favor of allowing a newly-appointed director hired by the hospital’s CEO to choose the agency’s executive committee has raised the ire of the charity organization’s members. The Foundation has been in existence for 32 years.

At its last board meeting, the Oak Valley Hospital Board of Directors discussed the report by Gary J. Curto of Crookeville, Tennessee that the foundation was raising less money than it received in support from the hospital.

Curto stated the current foundation board is perceived as a “special event planning committee” when the need is for an organization that can bring in personal gifts to the hospital. He said the foundation should raise $3 for every $1 provided to them.

“We should be raising funds through philanthropic activity, grant writing, and special events,” OVH Board of Directors President Dan Cummins said at the meeting. “The average foundation we studied gets three to five times the money supplied to them and we’re nowhere near there.”

Board Member Jim Teter conveyed that a hospital-paid foundation director and one clerical person costs OVH close to $200,000 and that the foundation only raised half of that money.

Curto described the current foundation board as “not unified” and was a “glowing weakness” that needed to be corrected for them to reach their fundraising potential.

“The consultant recommended the foundation board be dissolved,” Teter reported. “They (foundation board) didn’t like that.”

“The report made them angry,” added Board Member Louise Sanders.

Sanders stated that current Foundation President Liza Cotton’s term expires in June and thought there could be more agreeable movement with the foundation when a new president is appointed in July.

“Emotions subside and a more civil discussion for what’s best for the hospital can happen with time,” said new Hospital CEO John McCormick.

Liza Cotton did not return several calls by The Leader for comment on the study.

Foundation Board Vice-President Lana Casey disputed Curto’s report, stating he did not have correct figures and that the former director, Amy Thompson who was removed last year by former CEO John Friel, had other duties such as bookkeeping for other groups including the senior (care) center on her list of duties.

“You can’t equate how much money was spent and raised because the executive director had to do other things,” Casey said. “If the director only did foundation duties, they could focus on its philanthropy.”

Casey also believes some of the figures provided by Curto were skewered.

“What they fail to tell everybody is the correct amounts given to the hospital,” she said.

Casey identified that the Oak Valley Foundation rose over $3 million in bond support for the new hospital and while their two main charity events – the golf tournament and hospital gala – rose over $90,000; other events sponsored by the foundation raised another $25,000 from other events in addition to memoriam donations and charitable trusts.

Both sides acknowledge that the removal of Amy Thompson as foundation director created a rift between the administration and the foundation. The foundation claims its bylaws state the director can only be terminated with the consent of the officers.

“The foundation and prior hospital administration then had a strange relationship,” described Cummins. “We now have to mend fences by that.”

Casey, who stated the foundation desperately needs a director in place and agrees about the need for varied philanthropic activity, believes the executive board should have a more active role, again due to the bylaws, in selection of the new director other than a few “honorary foundation members” as identified by Curto.

“While they have their own set of bylaws, it doesn’t give them the right to direct the hospital on how they spend our funds on staff organization,” said McCormick. “The issue isn’t on hiring a director but on the performance of the foundation at a time when the federal government and insurance companies are cutting back and I also weigh it with no employee raises for the last three years.”

“What they (the foundation) do is absolutely wonderful,” said Cummins. “They raise money and get the hospital’s name out to the public.”

With no director and its clerical person reassigned, the Oak Valley Hospital Foundation office currently sits unoccupied at the hospital. A sign directing those who wish to contact the foundation directs persons to the hospital human resources department.