Hospital commission OKs attorney to negotiate settlement with Allegiance

Thursday, November 19, 2020

By Samantha Jones

The Eureka Springs Hospital Commission has yet to reach a settlement agreement with former management company Alliance Management Group.

On Monday night, chairman John House said he has spoken with the commission's attorney, Megan Hargraves, about the settlement negotiation. House said Hargraves advised the commission to authorize her law firm to directly negotiate the settlement, saying Hargraves would bring a proposed settlement agreement to the commission for approval.

Commissioner Michael Merry asked if the negotiated number is higher than the $150,000 previously mentioned at the commission's Oct. 19 meeting.

"At this point, there is no negotiated total," House said.

At the Oct. 19 meeting, commissioner Kent Turner stated that the commission offered Alliance $75,000 but "they said they deserved $150,000." That's when the matter went to the attorneys, Turner said.

House said on Monday that Hargraves needs the commission to give her explicit approval to negotiate the settlement and Turner moved to authorize Hargraves to do so, saying the settlement would then come to the commission for approval. The commission voted unanimously to do so.

Also at the meeting, the commission addressed the process of hiring a new CEO. House said Turner and commissioner Tyson Burden are on the CEO Interview Committee, and commissioner Jean Reed asked if she could join the committee. The commission agreed to allow her to join the committee and Reed asked what the interview process would be like.

Turner said all applications are sent to the mayor's assistant, Kim Stryker, who will distribute the applications to the committee members at the end of November. Then the commissioners will interview applicants separately, Turner said. Commissioner Barbara Dicks said all the commissioners interviewed the former management company and asked why only three commissioners are on the committee.

"I think the idea was for that committee to kind of get everything going and kind of coordinate everything," House said.

"There may be some [applications] you don't even want to look at," Turner said.

"I think that happened before, but I think we need the choice not to look at them," Dicks said.

House said all the commissioners will receive copies of the applications and the members of the committee will report back after the interviews. The commission will then vote in public to hire a new CEO, House said, but the interview wouldn't be public so long as only one commissioner is present for it. The commission agreed to finalize the hiring process at its next workshop, scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 5, at Main Stage Creative Center.

In other business, House asked interim CEO Angie Shaw if every employee at the hospital "doctors, nurses, janitors, whomever" is wearing a mask the entire time they are at the facility.

"Yes, sir," Shaw said.

"Very good," House said. "I did want to hear that and I think it would be important for people in the community to know that when they go to the hospital they don't have to worry about getting exposed to COVID. There are no miracles and we all know that it could happen, but as long as that's the case, it's great."

The commission's next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 21, at Main Stage Creative Center.

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