In April, the city council authorized the Hospital Strategic Task Force to study the respective contributions of the two entities to the public health and economic development of the community and to consider models of future collaboration. This came out of earlier heated discussions between the hospital board, city council and the council’s Ad Hoc Finance Advisory Task Force. Representing the hospital board on this task force are James Schlichting, Brett Reese, and Charles Austin. Representing the city council, Ivan Imm, Betsey Buckheit and Patrick Ganey. In the audience were members of the hospital and city staff, as well as several interested citizens.
First Mayor Mary Rossing and then Hospital Board Chair Gina Franklin convened the meeting noting that this process provides a valuable conversation and that the staff of the respective bodies stands ready to provide information and assistance. The agenda included deciding organizational matters. Possible items for discussion included: Scope of study? What do we need to learn? Who do we need to talk to?
Tonight’s meeting was an informal round table sharing of ideas for topics of study and information gathering. Patrick Ganey began the conversation asking why have a city hospital – how does it benefit the city? Brett Reese responded that reinvestments are primarily made in the community, unlike another forms of ownership. Jim Schlichting added that decisions come quicker than in other organizations where they have to go through layers. In response to Betsey Buckheit’s question about what owning entities outside the city limits mean to a city government that works within those limits, Mr. Schlichting said with more population, the hospital can provide better and broader quality services. Other issues the group raised include the role of public health with city planning, what the city liability is should the hospital fail, and what experience other cities owning hospitals have had.
Ivan Imm distributed a potential agenda for a future meeting. He suggested background briefings by the hospital administration on financial matters, the relationship of the hospital and other health care organizations and providers, and a discussion of the primary care clinics. He cautioned that they need to be grounded before they can make recommendations. The group agreed that a first step would be for the council members to meet with hospital staff for briefings and orientation. Council members will summarize the information for their council colleagues to keep them informed. Presentations to the joint group and visits to other communities were also mentioned as possible information gathering possibilities.
By consensus, the group agreed that Betsey Buckheit should chair the group and they set June 18, 7:00 for the next meeting.