Hospital rejects committee nominees, plan to submit new choices to county
With both sides rejecting candidates submitted by the other, Carolinas Healthcare System and Union County will try to find common ground once again in December, when three new commissioners take office.
The issue involves three open spots on the county’s Community Trustee Council, the group charged with examining any potential contract or change in the lease agreement for the hospital system to manage Monroe’s CMC-Union hospital. The problem is both county and Carolinas Healthcare officials have to sign off on the appointments, and they’ve spent a year disagreeing. That’s just something the council is used to by now, council chair Donnie Baucom said.
“It’s not uncommon for one of our board members to have their term expire in December but serve until sometime in the first quarter of the next year,” Baucom said. “We’ll continue to function as a board with a quorum. That member does not come off the board until someone is appointed in their place.”
The current county board majority twice rejected the candidates proposed by CHS this summer, including current Monroe economic director Chris Plate, South Piedmont Community College president Dr. John McKay and county resident Richard Helms. Commissioners then put forward their own slate; Weddington public safety committee chair Walker Davidson, Marvin village administrator and former North Carolina senator Fern Shubert and Weddington resident Randall Groves, who had already served two previous terms on the council.
The Community Trustee Council charter calls for a ten member board, with two members of the hospital staff, one county commissioner, Corporation President Michael Lutes and six community members. Those members are appointed by the county, but subject to the corporation’s approval.
Now as CHS looks to submit a new list of names to county commissioners, the latest round of candidates still are confused over the fact they were officially welcomed to the CTC but were never told they had been rejected or why.
“They never talked to me,” Davidson said. “Donnie Baucom sent a letter welcoming us to the committee and that’s the last official word we had, other than the fact the Oct. and Nov. meetings were canceled.”
Davidson’s position is especially curious, considering his term would have ended in December of this year, as he was filing a spot left vacant.
CHS officials had not responded by press time. Baucom said as he understood it, there were some questions regarding the potential members, specifically their stand on a sale of the hospital.
“Walker Davidson was in support of the hospital sale, so I’m not sure how you can have someone serve on the board of an entity they’re in favor of selling,” Baucom said. “I don’t know Randall Groves and I’m not sure why they didn’t choose Fern. Look, we would have made it work, had they come on board, but those three just were not appointed.”
But the board needs the new members as quickly as possible.
“It takes almost a year when you get on this board, to understand what’s going on,” Baucom said, adding that with both the hospital’s lease and an agreement for CMC-Waxhaw still to be negotiated, it could prove problematic for someone to get approved later in 2011.
It’s been nearly a year since exterior construction was finished on the Waxhaw facility, yet the 24,700-square-foot building at the corner of Providence and Gray Byrum roads remains empty. Carolinas HealthCare System, parent company of CMC-Union and CMC-Waxhaw, owns the 8.65-acre parcel where the stand-alone emergency department would operate. The county meanwhile would lease the building for 10 years.
Payment on that rent started Nov. 1, 2009 at a rate of $51,322.86 monthly, despite the fact no lease agreement was in place between the two parties. Additionally, CMC-Union would be responsible for $5.2 million to cover the interior fixtures of the building, such as furniture and lights. It was that $5.2 million county commissioners refused to authorize Aug. 16. Additionally, the managing lease agreement for CMC-Union expires in 2020. Both issues would come before the CTC for review.
“What we’ll have to do is submit to the new board majority once they take office,” Baucom said.