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HCHD Holds Special, Called Meeting

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Letter to ETX Spectrum Foundation Debated

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY – A called meeting of the Houston County Hospital District (HCHD) Board of Directors was held on Tuesday, Jan. 22. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss two agenda items.

The first agenda item stated the board would consider, discuss and take action on a letter to the ETX Spectrum Foundation. The second item concerned the appointment of a new director to Place Two, caused by the recent resignation of Dr. Perry Ramsey.

Once the meeting was called to order by HCHD Board President Dr. Bob Grier, the board of directors took a moment to reflect on the sudden loss of Paul Dawson, the husband of board member Carol Dawson.

Following the moment of reflection, Grier said the nominating committee, of which Dawson is a member, was not ready to recommend a nominee for Place Two.

As he continued, the board president said the next item of business was to adjourn into executive session to discuss “… business with the East Texas Successor System, the foundation that was founded by East Texas Medical Center (ETMC).”

After approximately 30 minutes behind closed doors, the HCHD board reconvened in open session.

“We are back from executive session,” Grier said. “We have nothing to report at this time – no motions or actions to take – so I would entertain a motion to adjourn.”

A board member questioned if any type of action needed to be taken on the letter and Grier replied the matter had been delegated to a committee for negotiations.

“I think we are still supposed to vote, though, in public forum,” board member Rhonda Brown said.

After a few more board members chimed in, Grier remarked the reason for the executive session was “… to give the entire board the opportunity to read the letter that the negotiating committee has put together and edited and is going back to the foundation. You have already given the negotiating committee the opportunity to negotiate. This is part of the negotiations.”

“This letter,” Grier continued, “should the negotiations be successful, will be made public. Until that time, while we are in negotiations, this letter will not be made public.”

Board member Dina Pipes commented, “This (agenda) says to consider, discuss and take action. That’s in open session.”

After several minutes of discussion, board member Larry Robbins questioned if the board should discuss the letter in open session or send the letter to the ETX Spectrum Foundation.

Pipes replied, “It’s on the agenda. We need to discuss the certain amount but we don’t need to give ultimate details to the people out here (at the meeting.) This is being transparent.”

“We had a discussion in executive session that this was to be held in confidence,” Grier said.

“We are supposed to discuss and take action on the letter in open session, that’s what it says,” Pipes re-iterated.

“We will,” Board Secretary Barbara Crowson said, “once the negotiations are over.”

Grier added, “When the negotiations are completed, we will need to take action.”

The letter in question asks the ETX Successor System Board to forgive an approximately $4 million debt in its entirety.

With no further action, the meeting was adjourned.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.