Monday night, Sept. 28, the Eureka Springs Hospital Commission held three back-to-back special meetings at Main Stage on N. Main in the wake of firing Alliance Management Group last week. Commissioners promoted acting Director of Nursing Angie Shaw to Interim-CEO replacing Darrell Parke and Mark Stearns.
Chair John House said Shaw had accepted the position but she did not attend the meeting.
Commissioners agreed to begin the process of selecting a CEO either as a contractor or direct employee. They gave House authority to name two commissioners to serve on a committee to develop criteria detailing the position’s responsibilities to be published in undisclosed publications.
Commissioner Jean Reed said the individual should live in the community so not to be a transitory position, and commissioner Barbara Dicks agreed that the person should have roots in the community.
Commissioner Kent Turner said he wanted the CEO job-description to be thorough and complete saying, “the more detailed the better.” House said the committee will allow commissioners to work together without public involvement, but Turner said he spoke with Mayor Butch Berry who advised him that if two commissioners are together the press/public must be invited to attend.
“We’ll clarify that,” House said.
On the morning of Sept. 23, two commissioners went to the hospital to terminate Alliance, but Parke said they were given no notice or reason for the termination. There was no public information about this meeting.
Grant funds go toward testing equipment
Commissioners then approved a $75,000 purchase for a Covid-19 Cepheid testing machine that produces results in 45 minutes. Commissioner Tyson Burden called the purchase a “no brainer” and the hospital would be able to use some of the Covid-19 grant funds they received earlier in the year. The equipment also tests for MRSA (Super Bug), Flu/RSV, and Strep A among others.
Alliance had attempted to lease the machine for the hospital but Parke said the hospital’s credit was insufficient to qualify for an agreement.
Third meeting addresses CEO salary
The final special meeting was another executive session, the commission’s third private meeting in two weeks, where commissioners increased the salary of interim-CEO Angie Shaw by $800 per week. House refused to disclose Shaw’s original salary, though Shaw is a public employee paid by a government entity.
House tore off the secret salary from the top of the spreadsheet he offered the press, which described statistics of salaries for a critical access hospital of Eureka’s size. From what could be gleaned from the remainder of the spreadsheet the commissioners referenced the CEO base salary in a range from $64 per hour to $105 per hour, with additional annual bonuses ranging from $42,625 to $51,328.
The commission has not yet released the compensation payout it owes Alliance Management for early severance of the three-year contract. The commission has not provided the public a reason for the decision to terminate the contract and has not indicated any wrong-doing by Alliance.
Commissioner Dicks, however, admitted last week that she goes to the hospital to ask staff questions about operations, rather than wait for the monthly Alliance report at the commission meeting. House said in the Sept. 21 meeting if the Commissioners physically go to the hospital, “We are in breach of our contract.”
There is clear no-interference language in their mutual contract where the commission agreed to not interfere with staff or any operational decisions.
Last week Alliance did not accept the buy-out offer from the commission at time of termination and said they are conferring with legal counsel.