Lack of transparency at WCHD continues.
by Walker County News Today staff
Members of the Walker County Hospital District met for their regular monthly meeting Wednesday night at Huntsville Memorial Hospital.
Board Chairman Bob Hardy says that that the District is “well in to the sale process of the hospital.” He reported Hilltop Securities, the financial advisers hired after the questionable executive session at the January meeting, have initiated contact with interested health care systems. Hardy went on to say that several parties have expressed interest and he expects a mid-summer time frame to receive responses from interested bidders and to select finalists.
Where’s the info?
The Board reviewed and voted on number of financial issues during the meeting. As a matter of practice none of the documents related to those finances are made available to the public or the media prior to the meeting or at the meeting itself. Based on questions from Board Members, it appears only Board Chairman Hardy is allowed to actually review any of the information prior to arriving at the meetings. Unbelievably, members of the WCHD are voting to spend millions of dollars in taxpayer funds with basically no review of the information prior to their vote. During past meetings, members have voted on legal contracts without actually having seen the contracts on which they were voting.
Precinct 2 Commissioner Ronnie White, present at the meeting as a member of the public, even questioned Chairman Hardy about the lack of information available prior to WCHD meetings. Hardy said that’s the way the Hospital District, meaning he himself, does things.
WCHD Website: Information portal or sales pitch?
In spite of the District’s past assurances of transparency, there is still virtually no information available to the public. The District’s website, previously heralded as a portal of transparency into the District’s operations, still contains nothing other than a page with Board Members’ information along with a Q&A section that appears to be entirely written by the District’s newly-hired public relations firm.
The Documentation page of the website remains completely empty.
Budget documents? Nope. Nothing.
Agenda for Wednesday night’s meeting? No agenda for ANY meetings posted here.
Minutes of past meetings? No again.
Expense reports? Revenue reports? No way.
Meeting notices or schedules of upcoming meetings? Absolutely not.
In other WCHD business….
Other items on Wednesday’s agenda:
- The Board approved $9,300 for medical expenses for indigent Walker Co Jail inmates.
- The district spent about $684K more than it received during the month of February.
- $13,000 in legal fees were spent by the District in February. According to Hardy, the bulk of that money was spent to respond to a single public information request. That issue is still not resolved and has gone to the Texas Attorney General.
- $250,000+ was spent on Emergency Room renovations to keep TDCJ patients separated from the public.
- The District’s monthly operations bills for February totaled almost $15,000. No review of those expenses was done.
- The Board voted to approve March budgeted indigent care expenses of $576,664. There was no review of these expenses.
The Walker County Hospital District Board of Managers meets monthly at 7:00 PM on the last Wednesday of each month. Meetings are open to the public.