My opponent in the upcoming November election for Boone County Presiding Commissioner recently published his opinions in local newspapers regarding Boone Hospital. He acknowledged his opinions were based on rumors.
As Presiding Commissioner and as Commission Liaison to the Boone Hospital Board of Trustees, I cannot allow rumors or politically motivated opinions to replace factual information. The Trustees have responded separately to many of the substantive errors regarding the operation of the hospital and the negotiations for new management options currently underway. I would, however, like to respond specifically to the factual inaccuracies concerning the role of the Commission and that of the Presiding Commissioner with respect to Boone Hospital.
The Boone Hospital Board of Trustees holds monthly meetings that are open to the public. In the last two years I have acted as the Commission liaison to the five-member Board and have attended nearly every meeting. My opponent has never attended to my knowledge.
As the liaison to the Board of Trustees I have no vote on the Board or in the decision-making process. Indeed, it is the current leaseholder BJC, not the Board of Trustees, who makes nearly all management decisions regarding the Hospital. The Commission Liaison is an ex-officio member with no legal authority beyond that allowed by state law, which provides that the County Commission must approve or disapprove any proposed lease or sale undertaken by the Trustees. That being said, I am very aware of the negotiations and discussions that have occurred and have been an active participant in the process.
It is the job of the Commission to ensure that the interests of the citizens of Boone County are held foremost in both the actions of the Commission and in those of the Board of Trustees. I can assure you that they are. There is no predetermined decision concerning future Hospital management. By contract, BJC will manage Boone Hospital through December 31, 2020. The future management of Boone Hospital is not a decision that can wait until that point. Active consideration of the management options has been ongoing since at least 2016. Transparency in any governmental action is always best. In this instance full transparency is only limited as dictated by the potential management entities involved. As announced, the Trustees anticipate that a decision regarding future management of the hospital will likely be made over the next six months and will involve multiple opportunities for citizen and staff input.
As we move forward, it is important that we remember the history of our county hospital. Built in 1921 by the citizens of Boone County after passage of a $175,000 bond issue, it opened with 40 beds and was one of the first hospitals in the state to take advantage of a new law allowing public financing of community hospitals. As time passed it grew and became known for high quality care. It acquired the latest in medical technology with outstanding physicians in their respective fields. The hospital has received many awards for excellence over the years. Currently the hospital has 392 beds and is a full service hospital. It employs over 2,000 people and has 350 physicians on staff. This is the legacy that we entrust to the Boone Hospital Board. Neither they—nor I––take that responsibility lightly. Their work, without compensation, is motivated solely by their interest in and commitment to the citizens of Boone County. They deserve our gratitude––and our support.