I care deeply about St. John’s Health. Were it not for the facility and staff I would not be alive today. Unfortunately, I’ve reluctantly concluded many recent decisions by the hospital’s board of trustees have not been good for the institution.

Joe Albright’s resignation provides an excellent opportunity for us to examine what is happening and consider what we want from, and who we want on, our board.

Albright resigned from the board Nov. 9. Within days, the board established a process to select a replacement by requiring candidates to submit an application by Dec. 6 and saying finalists would be interviewed on Jan. 10.

I wondered how the board did that so quickly, and how and by whom finalists would be determined, so I sent it an email inquiring.

“I am not aware of [choosing Albright’s successor] being discussed at a regular board meeting. Was there a special one? Did the [board] members do it by email? phone? Zoom? etc.? Was the public informed/involved?

“Also, to what extent did the board members know Albright was going to resign before he did so. Can you please provide me with any writings or digital communications, starting as of Sept. 1, 2021, among board members that deal with Albright’s resignation and the process that would be used for filling that vacancy?”

Because I believe the board likes to handpick its newest members, and regard that as terrible, on Nov. 22 I sent it another email:

“A few months ago, when I first urged board members to begin a search for a permanent CEO [it’s now three months later and it hasn’t even appointed a search committee], one member told me they hoped Mike Tennican or Joe would resign so the Board could appoint Katharine Conover to the vacancy, enabling her to run in next November’s election as an incumbent, which in turn, would likely cause others not to run, and even if it didn’t do that, would give her a huge advantage in the election. I certainly hope it does not play out that way, for ... even though she is qualified ... the board should stop these machinations/shenanigans — the Board of Trustees is not its members’ private fiefdom.”

On Dec. 3, Karen Connelly, the hospital’s spokesperson, responded:

“Due to ... staffing constraints [and] the pandemic, producing the requested records impedes the ability of St. John’s Health to discharge our other duties. For the good cause stated, St. John’s Health estimates the time to provide the records you requested is 60 to 120 days.”

Tangent: Did Connelly write that or a lawyer? Is it intended to delay the release until someone is appointed? Does that lawyer represent the hospital or board? Are their interests coterminous? I suggest they’re not because I don’t think much of what the board’s done is best for the hospital. Back to the discourse.

The board has been flouting the Wyoming Public Meetings Act for some time, e.g., in how it fired Wagnon (the departed CEO) gifting him $1,200,200; making him agree not to say anything about the board (what is it hiding?); pretending to start a CEO search but not implementing one, etc.

Apparently, others are equally concerned, for when Karen wrote it would take 60-120 days to respond to my records request, she began with “Due to the volume of requests being processed.”

Bottom line: We need better results and more transparency from our board or to change the people on it.

Sandy Ress is a businessman, attorney and former candidate for Teton County Board of County Commissioners. Guest Shots are solely the opinion of their authors.

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