A political action committee has formed to support a slate of candidates for the St. John’s Medical Center Board of Trustees race.
There are four open spots on the seven-seat board, which oversees the public nonprofit hospital.
Healthy Hospital, Healthy Community is organized by a number of residents, including Becky Kimmel, Judy Basye, Bob Berlin, Ed Liebzeit, Bill Weiss, Stacy Fisher and Jim Auge. They want to educate voters over the next month.
“Healthy Hospital, Healthy Community is a group of local residents working to ensure Teton County elects the best possible Trustees in order to have the best possible hospital,” Weiss wrote in an email. “St. John’s Board of Trustees are the stewards of our community’s award-winning healthcare system.”
The PAC is raising money and placing ads in support of incumbents running for re-election — Joe Albright, Elizabeth Masek and Michael Tennican — as well as board advisor Linda Aurelio. The other incumbent, Barbara Herz, is not running for re-election.
The PAC believes the candidates are the “best possible candidates to advocate for locals and to keep St. John’s tradition of excellent patient care at the center of every hospital decision.”
The race is crowded, with 10 candidates, and contentious. In board meetings, hospital administrators have worried about competition and potential conflicts of interest. While they aren’t naming them specifically in discussions, it isn’t hard to figure out they’re pointedly referring to two doctors, Geoffrey Skene and Joshua Beck, who are not part of the hospital’s physician group and are investors in competing businesses.
That’s one of the PAC’s main points.
“We also cannot afford to elect hospital trustees with competing interests,” Weiss wrote. “Our community deserves trustees who are ‘all-in’ for the success of St. John’s.”
Other candidates include Kyle Burson, who’s running from the patient perspective; Susan Crosser, a former patient as well as longtime critic who has called for changes and improvements to the hospital for years in self-funded newspaper advertisements; Joyce Frye, a retired OB-GYN; and Chris Schroeder, a surgical first assistant at St. John’s.
The League of Women voters is hosting a forum for all hospital board candidates from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 24 at Teton County Library. The general election is Nov. 6.