Hospital trustee resigns hours after confrontation with Montrose leaders

MONTROSE — A member of the Montrose Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees resigned Friday, a day after she told the Montrose County Commission, through her attorney, she had no knowledge of the hospital board’s intentions to lease the hospital’s operations to a private nonprofit corporation.

Trustee Doris VanNess, who was appointed by the commission earlier this year, was the only trustee who attended a special meeting of the commission on Thursday. She was represented by her attorney, Kirk Rider, who spoke for her and told the commission VanNess “did not approve the hospital lease agreement executed on Oct. 15, 2010.”

VanNess tendered her resignation via a letter to the commission Friday morning.

Stephen Glasmann, chairman of the hospital board, disputed Rider’s contention. He said the vote last week was unanimous, 7-0, to lease the nonprofit public facility to a nonprofit private corporation, Montrose Memorial Hospital Inc., which the board created.

“She voted for it. She even wanted to second the motion,” Glasmann said. “To recant your vote is one thing. For her to say she never voted for it is a lie.”

Board member William Bennett also said the vote was unanimous.

The men, along with hospital Chief Executive Officer Dave Hample, said the meeting was posted in advance, and the vote was witnessed by all of the hospital board members, a recorder, the board’s attorney and two members of the public.

The men said leasing the hospital to a private nonprofit would protect the facility’s bottom line, secure the facility from property taxes from a possible passage of Amendment 60 on Nov. 2 and give the trustees flexibility in decisions on the hospital’s fiscal obligations.

The commissioners said during their special meeting Thursday they had no idea the hospital board had made the decision. Commissioner David White said the deal was kept secret deliberately, and he called the board’s decision a “hijacking” of county resources without the county’s knowledge.

The trustees, though, have the right to make such a change under state law, which also requires the commission to appoint a board of trustees to run the hospital with the best interests of the hospital and community in mind.

“There is nothing in the hospital act that gives the (county commissioners) oversight of the hospital,” Glasmann said. “If there wasn’t such a rocky relationship with the commissioners, we probably would have contacted them.

“We feared that if we had let them (the commissioners) know what we were doing, they would have put all their efforts into throwing a roadblock on the process.”

The county commission scheduled a special meeting for 8 a.m. Wednesday at Friendship Hall, 1001 N. Second St., to discuss the hospital-lease issue further.

The Daily Sentinel listed an incorrect time for the meeting in its Friday edition.


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