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UMC Board should not be secret
Feb 17, 2005 12:00 am
Assuming a mantle of leadership in any community requires standing by one's decisions. In order to lead, a person or organization must be willing to both speak out and then answer hard questions about the direction they are recommending.
These are the demands made of leaders everywhere, from elected politicians to civic groups and charities.
University Medical Center, Wilson County's lone hospital, is attempting to determine the direction of the community's future health care services by publicly opposing two surgery centers that want to locate in the county.
IN OUR OPINION
The fact the hospital is assuming this role in the community despite discernable public sentiment to the contrary begs the question, why is the UMC Board of Trust acting anonymously?
This newspaper in recent weeks has asked the UMC administration twice for the identities of their Board of Trust. The requests finally were denied Tuesday.
Certainly, as a business, UMC does not fall under the same laws that govern government offices. The state's open records laws do not pertain to the hospital.
However, UMC's board has publicly opposed at least one of the two surgery centers trying to build in Wilson County – one being constructed in West Wilson County by a local doctors' group.
This opposition came in the form of a formal letter of opposition filed with the state board in charge of issuing or denying certificates of need that allow medical facilities in Tennessee to be built. If the board turns down an application, the medical facility is not built.
The letter itself does not list board members or enumerate a board vote. It instead is signed by Board Chairman Dr. Robert Woods and gives language from a board resolution opposing the surgery center.
Nowhere in either the public record or from the hospital itself are the identities of these board members available. Certainly, they should be.
University Medical Center's board and administration is holding itself out as the arbiters of Wilson County's health care future, maintaining in a very public stance these two surgery centers are not needed.
Wilson County's residents deserve the opportunity to have all of the information about who is presuming to make these decisions on behalf of Wilson County.
They deserve to know the identities of these board members so any biases can be detected or business relationships with the hospital known.
University Medical Center, in opposing these certificates of need, is asking for the community's trust to plan the future of healthcare in this county alone. UMC's management should be willing to also give what it expects and allow Wilson County residents to make up their own minds.
There should be an open, honest debate about the county's health care future without any secret players sitting at the table.