Hospital board to meet at 5:30 p.m.

BRENT ADDLEMAN Managing Editor
Agenda

In the end, the only decision made was for another meeting on another day.

The Somervell County Hospital District Board of Directors called an emergency meeting on Friday afternoon for a 4 p.m. in the boardroom of Glen Rose Medical Center for “approval of payment to Paul Harper per Indemnification Agreement between Paul Harper and the Somervell County Hospital District.”

After lengthy discussion pertaining to the proper procedures for meetings and business acumen, the only decision made was to have a meeting on Monday, March 23 at 5:30 p.m. in the boardroom of GRMC to discuss the measure with a full board.

Board members Chip Harrison, John Parker, Dr. Karen Burroughs and Eugene Brode attended the meeting, while Harper, Ron Hankins and Brett Nabors were absent.

The Indemnification Agreement pertains to the hospital district paying the legal fees of a director or officer, such as a board member when legal action is taken against a director or officer when that person is acting in their capacity as a board member. Harper has been embroiled in a legal battle dating back to October 2014 in a “petition for removal of officer” civil suit filed by Somervell County resident Darrell Best.

Under the definition of emergency meetings, according to the Texas Open Meetings Act, emergency meetings can be called “when there is an urgent public necessity, the notice of a meeting or the supplemental notice of a subject added as an item to the agenda for a meeting for which notice has been posted in accordance with this subchapter is sufficient if it is posted at least two hours before the meeting is convened.”

The statute also calls for an “emergency or an urgent public necessity exists only if immediate action is required of a governmental body because of: an imminent threat to public health and safety; or a reasonable unforeseeable situation.”

The “emergency meeting,” was filed with the County and District Clerk’s Office at 12:50 p.m. on Friday afternoon – 3 hours and 10 minutes before the 4 p.m. start.

According to Ray Reynolds, who serves as chief executive officer of Glen Rose Medical Center, the hospital’s insurance company “has reviewed” the Best v. Harper case and “they will pay for Harper’s legal expenses to its policy limits, which is $1 million.”

However, the Indemnification Agreement calls for a $25,000 deductible to be paid. The agenda called for the payment to be to Harper, which Dr. Burroughs questioned whether the funds should be paid to Harper or the attorneys.

Harrison informed board members he received an email sometime Friday from Harper stating the “payment should be made to AIG directly.”

Dr. Burroughs questioned the “need for an emergency meeting when some board members were out of town,” fearing the “same pattern repeating.”

Harrison cited the board had a 5-day timeline to approve the agreement to pay the deductible. Tuesday would be the 5-day target, according to Harrison.

Reynolds cited better business practices of the board in making any decision.

“From a cleaner perspective in terms of doing business, wouldn’t it be better to have the indemnification agreement discuss it with the entire board, and have it ratified by the board and take the action of meeting the indemnification requirements as the next steps in that process,” Reynolds said, posing the question to Harrison.

Harrison stated the payment of the deductible was “standard business to do our part and take care of the deductible.”

Reynolds wanted to ensure the board was operating properly when making the decision.

“My whole question is making sure we are doing it properly,” Reynolds said. “I think we all kind of know where we want to go on it, that are meetings are properly posted, held and the proper actions taken. That is my only concern and desire on this.”

While Harrison was for taking a vote and “rehashing” the idea at the Thursday, March 26 regularly scheduled board meeting, he also felt there was “no reason we couldn’t reverse what we did (today).”

Reynolds asked the board if the hospital attorney had reviewed the Indemnification Agreement and approved the board taking action, to which Harrison interjected about why the emergency meeting was called.

“You and I had a conversation about this 24 hours ago, and this wasn’t what we decided,” Harrison said. “You said at that point I think we ought to have it in front of the board. I said well I guess we’ll call an emergency board meeting. You said you’d feel more comfortable with that.”

Reynolds pointed out the proper policy for posting meetings.

“You and I talked about 72-hour notice to do that,” Reynolds said. “I’ve talked to other board members. I talked to one board member who is in pharmaceutical salesman he is on the road; the other had business in Fort Worth and couldn’t get back. Three hours notice isn’t much notice.

“I’m OK with a special meeting.”

Brent Addleman is managing editor of the Glen Rose Reporter. He can be reached at 254-897-2282 or email to brent.addleman@theglenrosereporter.com. Follow him on Twitter: @GRR_Editor.