Taxpayers who turned out for the first town hall meeting held by the Somervell County Hospital Authority Board last week had finances and the hospital’s future on their minds.
Several people in the audience also drew applause when they expressed support for keeping Glen Rose Medical Center a county facility and not selling it.
Only three members of the seven-member board – chairman Larry Shaw and members Ernie Reinke and Gary Whittle — were allowed to address questions at the forum held at the Somervell County Expo Center. About 100 people attended.
The state’s Open Meetings Act requires governmental entities to post notice of public meetings at least 72 hours in advance. Even though the board had advertised the town hall meeting weeks in advance in both Glen Rose newspapers, an attorney called Gary Marks, chief executive officer of Glen Rose Medical Center, the day before the town hall forum to point out that it would be considered a board meeting if a quorum of board members spoke.
Since no official notice of a board meeting could be posted in time, only three board members could be on the podium. The other board members – Sharon Boone, Bob Lancaster, Angie Robertson and Deborah Gray – were allowed to attend, however.
“What we’re doing here is to listen to your input,” Whittle said. “We can’t do anything about the past. But we’re here to talk about the future of Glen Rose Medical Center.”
Shaw said in his opening remarks that, contrary to a published report several months ago, the medical center has not lost $1 million.
The fiscal year projection was for a possible $1 million loss, but the medical center is “severely under that number” for the first six months, Shaw said. Its current fiscal year began on Oct. 1.
“We’re glad things are a bit better” than the original projections, he added.
Whittle added that the board at its next regular meeting on Thursday hopes to identify a new audit firm to look at the hospital foundation's last three months in business before the board of trustees took over.
The Somervell County Commissioners Court appointed the board last November. Members began serving in January.
“We think it's healthy to rotate auditors,” Whittle said. “We want to make sure that the number we inherited are true and factual.”