New hospital board members get to it
May 10, 2002
John Sarpa, John Jellinek, and Elaine Gerson stayed true to form at their first Aspen Valley Hospital board meeting Thursday.
Sarpa, who got the most votes in Tuesday’s election, was appointed chairman by his fellow board members.
Jellinek, who reads financial statements like most people read the newspaper, was appointed treasurer.
And Gerson, who once worked as an intensive-care nurse at the hospital, asked direct questions at her first meeting.
At the meeting, the trio of newcomers praised the hard work over eight years by former board members Meg Haynes, Chuck Torinus and Tom Griffiths, who ran as a slate of candidates but failed to attract enough votes to serve another four years.
And the trio was warmly greeted by fellow board members Dr. Morris Cohen and Bob D’Alessio.
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Then, they started asking questions and changing the status quo.
Sarpa, who has clearly run a board meeting before, let the board know that from now on, the staff and board comment section of the agenda would be moved from the bottom of the agenda to the top.
“We’re not necessarily going to do things in the same order as we have in the past,” Sarpa noted in his congenial manner.
During the financial committee’s report, the question was posed to the board as to whether the hospital could spend $84,500 on five new mobile vital-sign monitors for the emergency room.
Sarpa asked about the normal process for items like that to be reviewed by hospital staff.
“We are going to ask a lot of process questions,” Sarpa said, smiling.
Jellinek, who has 30 years of experience in the medical equipment field, asked if the monitoring units had “RF,” or radio frequency capability, and whether they would interfere with other hospital equipment.
Gerson asked a detailed question about how the monitors would be used in the emergency room.
After further discussion, Jellinek moved to approve the purchase subject to some additional due diligence.
All five board members voted in favor of the purchase.
“Well, that was easy enough,” Sarpa said.
An hour into the evening meeting, the Domino’s pizza guy showed up and put the boxes on the table next to the sodas, the chips and the cookies.
The finance committee report continued.
Sarpa interjected, apologized for doing so, and then asked that in the future the public be given copies of certain financial reports so they could follow along at meetings.
The conversation swung to the potential purchase of an information management system from Cisco.
Jellinek perked up. In his role as president of Jelco Ventures, he buys companies that sell medical information systems.
“Who is managing that process?” he asked. “I’d be interested in looking at that.”
Minutes later, Jellinek, flipping through the financial report, asked why some bills weren’t being paid promptly even though it appeared the hospital had enough money on hand to pay the bills.
“What is the policy on paying bills here?” Jellinek asked.
The answer he received didn’t seem to satisfy him.