Steve Glasmann, chair of the hospital board, issue a statement that said turning over the hospital to a nonprofit, instead of keeping it under the auspices of the county commissioners, would be the best thing for the community.
“Under the new governance, the hospital will continue to provide the highest quality patient care to our community,” he said. “MMH will remain a community asset; decisions will continue to be made by a local board of directors and profits will be reinvested in the hospital and its services.”
Glasmann said there will be no changes to the hospital’s charity care policy, and that the change to nonprofit oversight “strategically positions the hospital for continued growth and success in today’s increasingly complex operating environment.”
The hospital board first proposed moving the hospital to operate under nonprofit status in the face of state propositions last year that would have left the hospital vulnerable for drastically increased taxes. Those propositions failed, but the board of trustees decided that moving control of the hospital to a nonprofit board would be the safest action to take for future protection.
The Montrose County commissioners, on the other hand, have objected from the beginning to taking the hospital out of their purview, and sued to stop the lease signing.
But Judge Jeff Herron of Montrose County Court agreed with the hospital board and ruled in August that the lease could be signed. The commissioners voted 3-2 to appeal the decision.
At the last public meeting hosted by the county on the dispute with the hospital board, many in the room wanted the legal action to come to a close because the county is using high-priced Denver attorneys to represent it.
After the lease was signed, Commissioner David White pronounced himself “extremely disappointed they chose to move forward with the lease before the litigation has been resolved.”
Commissioner Ron Henderson, who had legal wranglings with the hospital in the past, all but accused the board of trustees of stealing the hospital.
“It’s a sad day for the community,” he said in a statement. “I wouldn’t have done what they did last night for all the money in the world, but the board of trustees did it for $100 million,” the estimated value of the hospital.
Commissioner Gary Ellis, who voted against appealing Herron’s decision, said he is negotiating with Glassman to work to incorporate an amendment to the lease to meet county terms, so the matter can be resolved.
The appeals case was filed in September, but all records are not due until Dec. 8, said a spokeswoman for the U.S. Court of Appeals in Denver. She said it could easily take a year or two before a decision is reached in the case.