BOCC Special Meeting 03/14/08 Print
Board of Commissioners - Minutes






Chairman Larry Ammons convened a special meeting of the Haywood County Board of Commissioners at 1:45 p.m. in the Board Room in the County Commissioners’ Meeting Room at the Haywood County Justice Center, Waynesville, North Carolina, with members Vice-Chairman J.W. “Kirk” Kirkpatrick, III, Commissioners Mary Ann Enloe, Charles “Skeeter” Curtis and Bill L. Upton present. Staff members present were County Manager David B. Cotton, Assistance County Manager Marty Stamey, and Administrative Assistant Rebecca Morgan.


Pledge of Allegiance


Chairman Ammons led the Pledge of Allegiance.


Vice-Chairman Kirkpatrick offered the invocation.



Receive Report and Update from Haywood Regional Medical Center Representatives and the Compass Group


Al Byers, Interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for Haywood Regional Medical Center (HRMC) approached the Board. Mr. Byers stated that the hospital authority board of commissioners held a meeting March 13th. At that meeting the hospital board passed a resolution thanking Dr. Nancy Freeman for her service on the board and as board Chair. A new Chair, Mr. Glenn White, and a new treasurer, Mr. Mark Clasby, were elected. One item on the agenda was appointment of a Future Directions Committee. The members of this committee are Mark Clasby, Chairman, Dr. Henry Nathan, Dr. Al Mina, Dr. Richard Harsh, Kirk Kirkpatrick, and Al Byers. Mr. Byers presented the summary of the action plan.


Eileen Lipham approached the board. Ms. Lipham explained that an interim chief nursing officer and the interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO) have been working with the action plan. A timeframe for the inspection by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare services (CMS), which provide funding, has been set for March 31st. CMS may not actually arrive for inspection on this date, but this is the date set for HRMC to be ready for inspection. Tasks have been divided into twelve interdisciplinary teams involving broad representation with physicians, board members, administration, staff nurses, and security.  These teams will review the hospital’s existing process and help design new processes for the future. There is a team working on the governing body, restraints, patient grievance process, medication administration, assigning competent staff, quality program, nursing service, equipment and supply maintenance, pharmaceutical care, respitory care and staffing, the infection control program and in-patient and post anthesia evaluation. These teams will have an action plan in place in order to achieve the March 31st deadline. A key theme for these teams is “Communication and Education”. Earlier this week the hospital had an unannounced, but expected, joint survey. This visit paralleled those findings from the survey completed by CMS. The survey extended to areas of best practice set by the national safety patient goals which are have been identified as by the Joint Commission as priorities for hospitals to improve the safety and care that is delivered to patients.


Vice-Chairman Kirkpatrick requested clarification of the Joint Commission. Ms. Lipham explained that the Joint Commission is an accrediting body that analyzes the delivery of patient care. Their focus is on patient safety and patient rights. The Joint Commission performs analysis of the operations of the hospital through every aspect of operations of the hospital. Hospitals receive their accreditation every three years. Commissioner Curtis inquired as to the last visit from the Joint Commission. Ms. Lipham answered that they were at HRMC last year and received accreditation at that time.


Mr. Byers introduced Gwen Evans. Ms. Evans presented a cash flow analysis. Presently HRMC has $19.2 million in investments. The cash needs projections for May is $2.7 million, in June $2 million and in July $1.6 million for a total of $6.3 million. Ms. Evans explained that this would be draw down from investment accounts to continue the operations available even with the decrease in business.


Vice-Chairman Kirkpatrick stated that the futures committee will be proceeding next week regarding the future of the hospital and how it will to review all the options available.


Commissioner Enloe inquired if one option is to return HRMC to a county hospital. Vice-Chairman Kirkpatrick confirmed that one of the primary options is to return HRMC to a county hospital.  


Public Comment Session


Chairman Ammons opened the public comment session.


Dr. George Brown approached the board and shared the history of the hospital. The first time hospital in Haywood County was named Pigeon Street Hospital. Later, the name changed to Waynesville Hospital. In 1918, half of the residents of Haywood County contacted influenza and many died. Caskets were stacked on Main Street for those waiting to bury the dead. At that time Haywood County bought stock in the hospital and its name changed it to the Haywood County Hospital. In 1922 the hospital was condemned as fire hazards. The physicians, Dr. Able, Dr. J.H. Wade, Dr. McCracken, and Dr. Sam Stringfield and Dr. Thomas Stringfield, had a dream that Haywood County could have a modern hospital and convinced the Commissioners to hold a bond issue for $50,000 for construction of the hospital. That bond issue failed. It was rumored it failed because of ballot box tampering. These physicians, in 1925, convinced the Commissioners again to hold another bond issue for $100,000. Dr. Able remained in the precinct that was suspected of the ballot box tampering. Several men came in that afternoon packing pistols, to carry the ballot boxes to the election board for counting. Dr. Able said, “You’ll move the boxes over my dead body”. The bond issue passed and the Haywood County Hospital opened December 31st, 1927. It was the first hospital in North Carolina built with public funds. The hospital had 143 beds. In 1970, it was realized that a bigger hospital was needed. A $14.5 million bond issue was passed to build a more modern hospital. Dr. George Brown stated that on Sunday, March 16th, at 2:00 pm, he will be at the hospital to pick up trash in the parking lot and invited everyone to join him.  


Becky Johnson, reporter with “Smoky Mountain News” and on behalf of Scott McLeod, Publisher, stated that a public information request was presented to HRMC requesting the full compensation package of former CEO David Rice. HRMC Attorney Phil Smith advised the board and the HRMC employees to deny the public access to these documents. Ms. Johnson shared that they have been told Mr. Rice’s base salary, but the full compensation package he received during the term of his employment has not been provided. Ms. Johnson stated that the statutes show this information is a matter of public record. The decision to withhold this information violates state law, and it further erodes public trust in the hospital at a time when community support is crucial and it compromises the Haywood County Commissioner’s appeal for HRMC to act with transparency as this crisis is resolved.


Commissioner Enloe stated that she has received telephone calls from other newspapers who have shared concern that they are not receiving information requested. Their attorneys have stated that they are entitled to this information. Commissioner Enloe expressed her concern as well, but stated that it is the responsibility of the hospital board and the hospital staff to respond to this issue.


Commissioner Curtis inquired as to the HRMC Attorney Smith returning calls to “The Smoky Mountain News”. Ms. Johnson confirmed that one call was returned, but not others. In the call Mr. Smith stated that he would prefer to speak to the attorney representing”The Smoky Mountain News”, but not to the publisher or a reporter.


Commissioner Upton expressed his desire to see this issue resolved quickly. Commissioner Upton stated that the public needs to have this information.


Vice-Chairman Kirkpatrick stated that the statute reads, “In addition the following information for the last completed fiscal year”. Vice-Chairman Kirkpatrick inquired if the fiscal year 2008 has ended. County Attorney Killian confirmed that this is a very difficult provision to interpret. County Attorney Killian advised that the obligation to the County Commissioners is to receive this letter from “The Smoky Mountain News”, and to consider and to monitor the situation, but the Commissioners have no responsibility to respond because the requested records belong to the hospital.


Commissioner Enloe reiterated the word “transparency”. Commissioner Enloe stated that people want to know this information.


Commissioner Curtis agreed that the hospital should release the information.


Vice-Chairman Kirkpatrick stated that at the end of the fiscal year the information will have to be provided. Vice-Chairman Kirkpatrick requested that County Attorney Killian meet with Attorney Smith regarding the records in order that the Commissioners may be advised as to the rationale behind denying the records. Chairman Ammons agreed that County Attorney Killian should meet with Attorney Smith. Commissioner Curtis expressed that Attorney Smith should explain to the media the reason that the requested information cannot provided.  The failure to return telephone calls to the media is simply inexcusable. Vice-Chairman Kirkpatrick stated that if the media say they do not have an attorney, then Attorney Smith could talk with anyone directly. Commissioner Upton stated that cleansing comes before healing. If information keeps dragging out for a long period of time, there will be no healing. Commissioner Upton further stated the best thing to do is to get all the information out at one time, and then the healing process can begin. Mr. Byers confirmed that HRMC no longer has a public relations firm.   


Harley Caldwell approached the Board. Mr. Caldwell stated that the support for the hospital is critical. Mr. Caldwell expressed that the trust of the people must come before we pass the bond issue coming up in May. 


Megan Brown approached the Board. Ms. Brown stated that David Rice, the former CEO, did not run the hospital in an honest way. Ms. Brown stated that the hospital employees do not have to be afraid anymore.


Lori Stall approached the Board. She advised that she was fired from HRMC. Ms. Stall expressed her appreciation of the recent resignations from the CEO and the Chair of the hospital board.


Chairman Ammons stated that progress has been made. Last week a summary was presented and this week an action plan was presented. Chairman Ammons commended the hospital staff for these reports. It is expected that the hospital will continue in some form. Chairman Ammons encouraged everyone to focus on the jobs that need to be completed and get re-accredited.


Commissioner Enloe inquired as to the date the applications for the hospital authority board of commissioners are due. Mr. Cotton confirmed that the applications should be received in his office by March 31st.


Dr. Brown stated that the fear game is over.




Commissioner Enloe made a motion to adjourn. Commissioner Upton seconded and the motion carried unanimously. The time of adjournment was 2:50 pm. The DVD is attached by reference to the minutes.  

   David B. Cotton                                                    Larry R. Ammons
Clerk                                                                     Chairman