• Last modified 416 days ago (May 25, 2023)


6 seek seats on hospital board Tuesday

Staff writer

A field of at least six candidates for St. Luke Hospital board of directors will stand for election during the board’s annual meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday in the basement of St. Luke Clinic, 537 S. Freeborn St., Marion.

The candidates have different reasons for running, but conflict over a federal prescription program is what brought forward three challengers.

At the April board meeting, Marion pharmacist Traci Lanning demanded an independent audit of the hospital’s 340b program, which she is a contracted participant.

Three half-hour executive sessions followed. After the last session, chief executive Jeremy Ensey gave three months’ notice of his resignation.

The terms of board members Linda Carlson, Suzanne Robinson, and Roger Hannaford expire this month. All are running for another term.

Former county commissioner Dan Holub, county Republican chairman Rose Davidson, and Gene Winkler, who resigned from the board in late March but soon afterward announced he wanted to rescind his resignation, also are running.

■ Gene Winkler

Winkler was on the hospital board several years before he resigned.

One thing he wants is to allow the public to address the board, as they used to be able to do. Now, meetings have no agenda item for public comments.

“Jeremy, I think, was the one who changed it and took it off,” Winkler said.

He didn’t appreciate the way the Lannings’ request to talk to the board was handled.

“It’s just not a good deal the way they handled it,” Winkler said.

Winkler said he thought the audit Lanning wanted should be done.

“How are you ever going to know if you never have an audit?” he said. “I think the board should have a look at it and see what happened.”

He wants more transparency from the hospital board.

“The people have the right to come and meet with the board and see what’s happening,” Winkler said.

Winkler also wants a hospital board chairman who tries to work with everyone, and he believes present board chairman John Wheeler doesn’t necessarily try to work with others.

“The hospital right now is in really good shape financially,” Winkler said. “I hope we get someone who comes on and will continue that.”

■ Dan Holub

Holub said he decided to run for the board after attending April’s meeting. His decision was made when he found out how long the Lannings had wanted answers on the 340b program and the issue still had not been resolved.

“The Lannings made a very decent offer to pay for the audit up front,” Holub said. “If the audit came out in the hospital’s favor, Lannings would abide by it.”

Holub was offended by a board member’s behavior during the April meeting.

“One of the board members harangued the Lannings,” he said. “It was totally uncalled for and improper. They made a good faith effort to resolve it. I saw no interest from anyone on the board in it.”

Holub said the hospital board needed to correct problems and go forward.

“I see no point in going through the turmoil that we’ve been going through,” he said. “This needs to be resolved in an equitable manner, and I didn’t see any movement on the part of the hospital board to resolve it.”

Holub also wants to have hospital board elections during general elections instead of done at annual meetings.

State law allows hospital boards to opt to have board offices on regular county ballots.

“That slipped by me for 30 years, how they do their ballots,” Holub said. “I just never really noticed the fact their elections are done at an annual meeting.

“Well over half the townships in this county are in that hospital district, which is a bunch of people. We select the board members by who shows up. It’s driving nearly a half a million dollars. It’s not illegal, but it’s wrong.”

■ Rose Davidson

Davidson said she went to the April meeting to see what the controversy over the 340b program was. That’s what made her decide to run for the board.

“I have no idea who is right or wrong,” she said. “I just felt like there was a problem, and with my life experience I might be able to help. I would like to see to get to the bottom of why Traci thinks the way she does and why the hospital thinks the way they do.”

Finding a new chief executive will be “a big deal,” she said.

■ Suzanne Robinson

Incumbent Suzanne Robinson said she was running for another term because she wanted to build on what the hospital has accomplished in recent years. Perhaps the hospital would want to expand on some programs.

“This board has been very successful at guiding the CEO,” she said. “Our senior living center has been growing and a lot of hospitals are losing that. I’d just like to be a part of that.”

■ Roger Hannaford

Hannaford just got on the board in January 2022 and is getting his feet wet.

Uppermost on his mind is to hire a new chief executive, he said.

“I’m glad we’ve got a good hospital,” he said. “If we did not have a good hospital in this community, I would move.”

■ Linda Carlson

Carlson, the longest standing hospital board member, has been on the board 12 years.

“I would like to continue what we have,” Carlson said. “We’re very financially stable. We’re very fortunate we’re financially stable right now.”

Carlson also said the hospital needs to resolve controversy over the 340b contract.

“We have to resolve it, but that’s not always timely with a government program,” she said.

In hiring a new chief executive, she hopes to find someone familiar with doing the job.

“I just want to continue to maintain and grow the services we offer,” she said.

Election procedure

Others interested in serving on the hospital board may declare candidacy in advance or at the meeting.

The Record asked the hospital’s public information officer how the election would be conducted — by secret ballot or show of hands, and whether voters would be required to have photo IDs, prove that they live in the district, and be included on voter registration lists.

The newspaper’s request was not answered as of presstime.

Last modified May 25, 2023