[Vision2020] Community deserves answers from Gritman chair
moscowcares at moscow.com
Fri Jun 23 00:51:05 PDT 2017
Courtesy of today's (June 23, 2017) Moscow-Pullman Daily News with thanks to B.J. Swanson.
Her View: Community deserves answers from Gritman chair
Gritman Medical Center is a private, nonprofit corporation and is not required to make public its board proceedings and financial details. However, as a large community asset, what goes on at Gritman affects all of us. If Gritman is not being prudent with resources in awarding no-bid contracts, the community pays for that through higher health care costs.
I never intended for my May 31 memo to the Gritman Board and others to be leaked to the Daily News ("Contention at Gritman", June 10); thinking the board could have worked through this. But looking back on it now, I still stand by my words. I and others feel the community deserves answers.
The Gritman board chair is in a position of great influence and control. Unlike other nonprofit boards and contrary to governance best practices where all discussion and decisions are made at board meetings, Chair Greg Kimberling has frequent private conversations with CEO Kara Besst. When proposals are reported to the board, they lack detail and are always attributed to the CEO, when in reality they were strongly influenced by Mr. Kimberling who would then limit discussion by saying "I approved those with Kara," and expect a rubber-stamp vote by the board.
Mr. Kimberling chairs the board, but also chairs the Finance and Audit Committees, positions of great influence. He has declined to appoint others with financial expertise to chair the Finance Committee. He cuts off discussion about requesting bids for insurance and construction contracts and refused to disclose details of cost overruns that benefit his sister, sole owner of Sprenger Construction since 2016. Even though he signed a conflict of interest statement, his actions circumvent the conflict of interest policy. He has refused to consider a stronger conflict policy that would require disclosure of commissions he receives from the Gritman insurance policies. His explanation is that he is following the board's direction but fails to disclose his influencing and monetary benefit from Gritman.
Under Mr. Kimberling's leadership since 2016, Gritman has lost a number of financial professionals and others who spoke up against his undue influence. Former board member Greg Mann, a CPA, lost his board position because he challenged Mr. Kimberling. Mr. Mann and I frequently questioned the financial decisions, the Finance Committee chairmanship and the influence of Mr. Kimberling.
At the Gritman annual meeting election, board secretary Robin Woods refused to allow Mr. Mann to be renominated to the board stating that she required written confirmation from Mr. Mann that he wanted renomination. Later it was discovered that Ms. Woods had Mr. Mann's written confirmation but refused to disclose it. That election was fraudulent according to Gritman's own bylaws and must be declared invalid.
A former Gritman director of engineering who watchdogged construction costs on the Medical Office Building left Gritman after repeated disagreements over costs with Mr. Kimberling, who was representing the interests of Sprenger Construction. Chief Financial Officer Harry Jasper left this month after only four months on the job. There is a strong effort now to silence me and force me to resign; which will leave no financial or questioning minds on the board - a serious concern considering the influence by the board chair and large no-bid contracts that financially benefit Mr. Kimberling and his sister.
Over the past 30-plus years, Gritman hasn't experienced this kind of trouble as board chairs did not have financial conflicts of interest. Most board members don't understand institutional financial matters and the ramifications of undue influence and conflicts of interest. I hope this controversy will drive change and remind the board of their legal and ethical responsibility to do what is right for Gritman and the entire community.
Seeya 'round town, Moscow, because . . .
"Moscow Cares" (the most fun you can have with your pants on)
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