The public hospital law says Valley Medical Center elected commissioners may sign contracts, which is the basis for the alliance with UW Medicine.
I attended the first community meeting held for information about the proposed alliance. Coming out of that meeting, I believed the commissioners would be in charge of running VMC and the Board of Trustees would be in charge of health-care items. That sounded logical to me.
Minutes of an early trustees meeting indicated that the board was discussing VMC employee retirement. I wondered, “What does that have to do with health care?” Since then, the Board of Trustees has made every decision regarding VMC with the exception of tax levies. That leaves the Board of Commissioners nothing to do, as you can see by their meeting minutes posted on Valley’s website. The trustees even OK’d the million-dollar salary for CEO Rich Roodman. He no longer attends the Board of Commissioners meetings, so that tells us where the power is.
Although the commissioners are part of the 13 members of the Board of Trustees, they have no clout with the 8 to 5 ratio … in reality more like 8 to 2 with the way the current commissioners vote.
Perhaps if the alliance had been put to a vote by hospital tax-paying residents, the elected officials would really be in charge of the hospital.
(Editor’s note: For clarification purposes only, the Board of Commissioners or commissioners refers to the governing board of Public Hospital District No. 1, elected by district residents. The Board of Trustees, or trustees, refers to the governing board of the Strategic Alliance under which Valley Medical Center is operated.)