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Incumbents only filings to date for hospital vote

Staff writer

Names on the ballot for Tuesday’s annual board election at St. Luke Hospital are Chris Mercer and Kathy Inlow.

Although expanding public access to the election has been discussed for a year, the election process is the same this year as in the past, pending further discussion by the board.

The election will be 5 p.m. Tuesday just before the board’s annual meeting in the basement of St. Luke Clinic. Because the clinic closes at 5 p.m., board members, observers, and voters must arrive before 5 p.m. to gain access to the meeting through the clinic.

Mercer, a member of the board for a number of years, has a track record of missing meetings.

Hospital bylaws require that a trustee with excessive absences be counseled by the board.

“If a trustee has three consecutive unexcused absences, or misses four meetings in a year, this matter will be brought before the board for review,” the bylaws read.

Mercer missed January, April, May, June, October, and November meetings in 2022; April and November meetings in 2023; and January, February, and April meetings so far this year.

April through June in 2022 comprise three consecutive absences, and October and November exceed “four absences in any year.”

Asked why Mercer was not counseled by the board about his absences, chief executive officer Alex Haines said bylaws did not set a timeline for a review.

“The board may unilaterally issue a public or private reprimand to a trustee for failure to fulfill his or her duties under the bylaws and under Kansas law and may provide warnings that additional action may be taken if the failure isn’t corrected,” Haines said.

Anyone else who wants to serve on the hospital board has an option to notify the hospital they want to run for election right up until the vote takes place.

A year ago, amidst community outcry over operation of the hospital’s contract with a local pharmacy for a federal drug program intended to boost profits from prescription sales to benefit low-income patients and expand services from the hospital, six candidates filed for election to the board. One board member was ousted.

That year, 140 people crowded into the meeting room to cast ballots.

Last modified May 23, 2024

 

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