Stick to the truth | AspenTimes.com

Stick to the truth

I am a current member of the Aspen Valley Hospital board. I have been associated with the hospital for over seven years as a member of the finance committee, as its chairman, and currently as an elected member of the AVH Board of Directors. I feel that I cannot sit back and ignore some of the comments being made during the campaign.

At the two debates that have been held for the candidates to express their points of view, I have been impressed with the caliber of all of the candidates. All are intelligent and articulate. All bring something to the board that they feel is needed.

Some, in order to develop an issue for themselves, are painting a picture of the incumbent board candidates that is less than true or, in some cases, downright false.

I want to remind the candidates that they all signed a statement issued through the Community Forum to be “civil” during the campaign. That statement had a lot of good points within it. Some are not being strictly adhered to.

Given that I must work in a collegial setting with the new board, I want to set the record straight and hope that, in the waning hours of the election, they will either refrain from accusations and innuendo that are not well founded or be very specific in what they “imply” so that the incumbent can have a fair chance to respond.

Also, two years down the pike I will be faced with a decision about my running for re-election, and I want to let people know that I won’t face blind accusations and misrepresentations of fact without a serious challenge.

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First, some candidates have alleged that the current board is somehow involved in a closed door policy, that they don’t respond to the employee concerns, and that they are not responsive to the employees of the hospital.

This is most troubling to me, given the attention we focus on our staff. It flies in the face of all we have tried to do.

Under the current board, we have supported an employee council and have a board member represented at the council’s meetings. We all have spent time in the hospital with staff, listening to concerns and soliciting opinions.

We have invited staff to the monthly board meetings where they are free to make comments and voice concerns. We have been a proactive board when it comes to soliciting employee concerns.

Finally on this subject, I have run businesses in the past, and to think that you can have a staff where each and every member is totally happy is to ignore the basic nature of people. There will always be naysayers in any organization and AVH is no different.

Second, some candidates dwell on lawsuits filed against the hospital. I suggest that for incumbents to discuss these suits is not very ethical. They cannot comment on these cases while they are in progress. Any lawyer will attest to that.

Additionally, most suits that have been filed are considered by our attorneys to be “without merit,” as they relate to the hospital or its administration. Typically, we are one in a long list of parties who are targets of the lawsuit. The party lodging the lawsuit typically casts out a wide net in hopes for some judgment.

But most interesting is the fact that there are no cases where we have been successfully sued during the tenure of the current board.

Third, incumbent board members are being painted as somehow responsible for a very high turnover at AVH. In fact, we have a low turnover in an industry where, currently, qualified professional people are in such short supply and demand is so high for them that it encourages staff to move regularly for significant increases in pay. Our retention rate is quite good given the employment environment with which we are faced.

Fourth, a picture is being painted by some candidates of a board that operates in closed session and keeps things very close to the cuff. This is simply not true.

Any time we go into a closed session it is for very legitimate reasons such as pier review or contractual issues. Prior to going into closed session, in the public session our attorney sites the legal statutes that permit our being in closed session for each specific topic to be discussed in that closed session. To insinuate that the board is somehow secretive is simply false.

I feel that we have a strong set of contenders for the available three board seats. But I also feel that my fellow board members have done a job during their tenure that they can be very proud of.

They have guided the hospital from about $17 million in gross revenues at the beginning of their eight years on the board to over $54 million today, in an industry where major hospitals are merging or closing their doors due to revenue problems. AVH is financially stable. They have increased the services available to the public and will continue to do so.

I can work with whoever is elected, and we can continue to move the hospital forward. I simply want this election to be conducted in an honest and straightforward manner.

I have heard legitimate statements made by both the incumbents and challengers during the campaign. I applaud the candidates that made them. We do have worthy candidates. But they don’t have to create issues to win.

Let’s stick to the truth in this campaign and leave the false innuendos alone. We live in a great area. We have a great hospital with wonderful physicians, staff and management. It’s a financially and operationally stable institution. It has not been stable in years past.

Let’s be proud of what this entire community has accomplished at AVH. Most importantly, let’s all get out and vote on May 7 so we can say that our feelings were considered in this important decision.

Bob D’Alessio

AVH Board Member

Aspen