Letter: Is suppression of information transparency? | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Is suppression of information transparency?

Is suppression of information transparency?

On Monday, I attended the Aspen Valley Hospital Board meeting to hear exactly what has happened during the process of the selection of another surgeon for the hospital. It seemed to me that the public was never getting a clear and full account of the real process that we are entitled to.

After a statement by Dr. Bill Rodman, several others spoke, some supporting Rodman, others questioning the selection process, transparency, etc. Then it was the board’s turn to speak. Dr. Barry Mink, board chairman, referenced the AVH board’s previously issued statement which summarized the selection process and which he stated is quite transparent and has a full account of the process used. But from that point on, the meeting got very interesting. Information that has never heard or seen in print began to seep out.

First Dr. Chris Beck, head of the hospital medical executive committee, spoke. Several times he referenced a problem with the hospital’s trauma rating while addressing the previous public comments. Finally, it became clear that the hospital had been informed in July that its Trauma III rating was in jeopardy. But it was only after Dr. Mindy Nagel, an AVH board member, spoke that we began to understand what the real agenda used in the selection process had been.

Transparency, my foot! Where in any of the hospital press releases or statements to the public has it been stated that the hospital is in jeopardy of losing its Level III Trauma rating if changes and upgrades are not made by the next review in July 2014? Being dropped to a Level IV would be an extremely serious matter for AVH and the community. The public present was informed that this information is available on the state’s web site.

It then became clear that the selection of Surgical Services of Denver as the hospital’s second and third surgeons had more to do with AVH solving its enormous trauma level accreditation problem than the relatively simpler task of hiring an additional surgeon to work with Rodman. This information and the much more serious and complicated scenario has been withheld from the public.

The hospital board appears to feel that the selection of Surgical Services of Denver was done for the greater good of Aspen Valley Hospital and the community. But is suppressing important information how a public entity should operate?

I have chosen to address the egregious lack of transparency by the AVH Board in this letter. But I would alert the public to additional serious concerns that surfaced Monday night. It was stated that at present, Surgical Services of Denver is not willing to cross cover Rodman’s patients. Has the board created an intolerable situation for the community? Additionally, it has not been made public what contractual and financial support for Surgical Services of Denver the board agreed to. Our community needs 1.2 surgeons. Now we will have 3. What are the additional costs for the new surgeons and how will be paid for? These are important questions, and hopefully the AVH board will be forthcoming with answers for the public soon. July 1 is approaching fast.

Jill Fink


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