Commissues: Discussion Ensued

Posted 3/4/17

I started listening to the hospital commissioners’ meetings because all the interesting bits get edited out of the minutes. Passionate debate becomes “discussion ensued.” As a voter and a …

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Commissues: Discussion Ensued

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I started listening to the hospital commissioners’ meetings because all the interesting bits get edited out of the minutes. Passionate debate becomes “discussion ensued.” As a voter and a patient, I feel I better understand the issues at stake in our community when I have more information, but getting all the information in a timely fashion is sometimes unexpectedly difficult.

At the end of the commissioners’ meeting on January 18th, for example, commissioner Kees Kolff made what seems like a simple enough request: Publish the presentations discussed at board meetings at the same time as the audio recordings. Currently, they are published two weeks later. He noted that it is hard to follow the audio of the meeting when the commissioners are discussing something the listener can’t see. “If we’re posting the audio and we’re encouraging people to listen to it, why not just post the Powerpoint presentations at the same time?”

It seems like a no-brainer, but Jefferson Healthcare CEO Mike Glenn and commissioner Tony DeLeo objected. Glenn explained that Olympic Medical Center doesn’t record their board meetings and sends out presentations along with a board packet prior to the meetings during which they will be reviewed. Bundling the minutes in this way “provides value-added context.” [1:55:45]

Glenn was CEO of Olympic Medical Center between 1991 and 2006. It is not otherwise obvious to me why OMC’s practices are relevant to the work of our public hospital district.

Kolff pointed out that the minutes, as they are currently edited, don’t provide much context. “Our meeting minutes are so abbreviated, I don’t see any relation to the meeting minutes we approve and the presentations that are given at our meeting.”

Glenn, who sounded to me as if he were running out of patience with Kolff, said, “I’m sharing with you what Olympic Medical Center does and the rationale behind it.” Kolff responded calmly, “That’s fine. I don’t hear any rationale for why we should not make the presentations available.”

DeLeo said he saw little value in publishing the Powerpoint presentations at the same time as the audio because it would be difficult for people to follow both at the same time. And maybe it would just be too technologically advanced to attempt: “We’d have to know from a technical standpoint what would be involved in doing this.” I’m not sure who he was underestimating more: voters or Jefferson Healthcare’s IT department, but I’m sure both groups are up to the challenge.

Glenn summed up by saying the current way of publishing is an orderly system. “The downside is that there may be a delay before all the components are available. The upside is that it is a system and sensible to administrate and oversee.” Buhler closed discussion by telling Kolff, “We’ll look into your request and come up with a plan.”

As if to underscore Kolff’s point, when the minutes of this meeting were published, the discussion was boiled down to one bland sentence: “Commissioner Kolff made a suggestion to add power points the same day as the audio recording to the Jefferson Healthcare website.”

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