Hospital CEO search lacks transparency

Northfiel Hospital logo Today’s Nfld News: Hospital Board meetings likely broke law. "Hospital officials likely broke open meeting laws by routinely closing meetings to the public to discuss executive departures from the city-owned enterprise…" In mid-August, Northfield Hospital‘s Bobbi Jenkins contacted me about posting a news release (see below) from the search committee "seeking input from the community regarding the most important qualities for candidates for the President/CEO position." (continued)

I responded that instead, I wanted to have an online discussion about the issue with participation from a couple members of the committee and asked to contact them to explain. She forwarded an email reply from John Lundblad, CEO Search Committee Chair, who declined. I asked for his email address and was told that I he prefers to be called. I’ve not called him yet.

My rationale for wanting something other than members of the public submitting suggestions privately is that A) no one benefits from anyone else’s suggestions; B) no one gets to observe how members of the search committee respond.  The St. Paul School Board has a special section of their website on their search for the next superintendent and held a public input session on Sept. 17 asking:

What are the most important qualities for the next permanent superintendent of the capitol city’s public school district? Now is your chance let Saint Paul Public Schools know your list of priorities at a Public Input Session.

What would be the problem with doing something similar for our hospital CEO search?

Aug. 20 Hospital news release:

The Northfield Hospital & Clinics Board of Directors is commencing a search for a new President and CEO. A Search Committee has been appointed by the Board to lead this effort and includes the following members:

  • John M. Lundblad, Board & Committee Chair
  • Dixon Bond, Board & Committee Vice Chair
  • James Schlichting, Board Member
  • Randy Reister, M.D. & Board Member
  • Rodney Christensen, M.D.
  • Robert Shepley, M.D.
  • Mary Quinn Crow, Administration
  • Mary Rossing, Northfield Mayor
  • Jim Blaha, Community Action Center
  • Karen Gervais, League of Women Voters Member

The Search Committee is in the process of developing a position profile and is interested in what the community believes are the most important qualities for candidates for the President/CEO position. If you are interested in providing input about these qualities, please contact the Search Committee by e-mail at: searchcommittee@northfieldhospital.org

In addition, telephone input can be given through voice mail by calling 507-646-6792 or through regular mail sent to John M. Lundblad, Search Committee Chair, 200 Division Street, #340, Northfield, MN 55057

Sept. 18 Nfld News: In time of health care reform, hospital seeks flexible CEO

3 thoughts on “Hospital CEO search lacks transparency”

  1. In today’s Nfld News: Open meeting laws need to be tightened.

    When you look at the law, it’s not hard to see how it happened. The existing law allows for closed sessions to discuss employee evaluations and discipline, but little else. That’s relatively clear cut.

    But the law also provides an exemption for marketing activity in competitive situations. It seems such nebulous language could be interpreted to describe just about any instance — including the process to find new leadership.

  2. Today’s Nfld News: Hospital Board votes to release redacted closed meeting minutes.

    The Northfield Hospital Board voted unanimously Thursday night to release some minutes from closed-door meetings held to discuss executives’ retirements.

    The board also voted to enact new steps to avoid noncompliance with state open meetings law in the future. Those steps could include mandatory training for board members, said CEO Ken Bank, as well as review of secret meeting agendas by the city attorney.

  3. BTW, kudos to the Northfield News for drawing attention to the inappropriately closed meetings.

    The review came after the Northfield News quoted legal experts familiar with the law that requires public bodies to hold public meetings as saying that the board closed meetings in violation of the law.

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