Mink and Balko in at AVH | AspenTimes.com

Mink and Balko in at AVH

In a landslide victory, doctors Greg Balko and Barry Mink were elected to the Aspen Valley Hospital board of directors yesterday.

Balko led with 911 votes, while Mink took second with 832. Incumbent Bob D’Alessio received 208 votes, and Richard Jacobs received 197, according to unofficial results from the hospital.

The turnout was small compared to the last election. In 2002, leading vote-getter John Sarpa received more votes as an individual (1,229) than were cast in this year’s election (1,154).

Balko and Mink will join the hospital board as it emerges from a crisis that recently saw the dismissal of its CEO and chief financial officer, a $7.5 million budget shortfall last year and the firing of 34 employees.

Balko, an emergency room physician at AVH, said his first priority is to find a new CEO. He said effective, new leadership is needed to inspire a staff suffering from low morale.

He also said the election of two physicians to the board will make it more accessible to staff.

“The first thing is to find a new CEO,” Balko said. “The board is in the middle of a search for one right now. I think Barry [Mink] and I bring very different perspectives to the hospital. I work here, and he’s got three decades of experience.”

Mink agreed that hiring a new CEO should be a first priority. He also reiterated what was a central theme of his campaign – the inclusion of hospital physicians and staff in board decisions.

“The CEO is our first priority,” Mink said. “I’m going to get all the input I can get from doctors, nurses and other staff to make sure we have a consensus.”

Jacobs offered his congratulations to the successful candidates and said he will remain involved in hospital affairs.

D’Alessio, who served on the board for six years, said he had no advice for the incoming members, but he was sure “they would make their own way.” Asked what aspect of his campaign hurt him, D’Alessio replied, “I was a member of the previous board. It’s not rocket science.”

Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is eharrell@aspentimes.com

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