Voters to decide whether to expand hospital board

East Snohomish County voters will be asked to approve adding two more members to the governing board of Valley General Hospital in Monroe.

Currently the public hospital is governed by a three-member board, with members Alice Cabe, John Hinchcliffe and Neil Watkins.

Eric Jensen, the hospital’s chief executive, said that he suggested adding two additional seats to the publicly elected governing board.

Five-member boards have several advantages, he said. With a three-member board, two board members can’t discuss hospital business without it being considered a meeting of the board under the state’s open public meetings laws.

With a five-member board, two board members could have an informal discussion about hospital business, he said. It also would allow two-member, instead of one-member board committees, Jensen said.

With a three-member board, if one member isn’t able to attend its monthly meeting, and the other two board members didn’t agree on an agenda item, no action could be taken.

“What if they need to make a decision?” Jensen said. “We’re hoping to have broader representation and improve the ability of the board to conduct business.”

Jensen said the Monroe hospital is the third hospital district he’s worked in and he finds five-member boards are more effective.

If voters approve the proposal, two new board members would be appointed in January and then be on the ballot for re-election in 2015.

Board members are paid $114 for each day spent in hospital district meetings or working on other hospital-related duties, not to exceed $10,944 a year.

Jeff Mero, executive director of the Association of Washington Public Hospital Districts, said of the 58 public hospital districts in the state, roughly two-thirds have five commissioners.

The issue will be on the ballot for voters in Monroe, Snohomish, Maltby, and the U.S. 2 towns of Sultan, Gold Bar and Index.

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or salyer@heraldnet.com

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