MOUNT GILEAD — The Morrow County Commissioners filed a public records complaint Thursday, Feb. 20 in the Ohio Court of Claims against the taxpayer-owned Morrow County Hospital Board over what they contend is “their continued refusal to be open and accountable to Morrow County citizens.”
“Starting in September, county leaders made public records requests to the taxpayer-owned hospital to provide county residents with vital information and transparency they deserve,” Morrow County Commissioner Tom Whiston said.
According to the filing, those requests were made Sept. 11, 2019, Jan. 28 and Feb. 5, 2020.
“But hospital board members refused many of our requests going against the model of an open and accountable public hospital. Instead, the hospital board has been plotting behind closed doors to shut down the life-saving emergency room, accept secret settlement payments and eliminate nearly 40 percent of the staff.”
Pat Drouhard, president of the MCH Board of Trustess, issued a response Friday:
“It is abundantly clear to the Morrow County Hospital Board that the Morrow County commission does not agree with the OhioHealth agreement made last spring. The hospital board is charged with making such decisions, and stands by it and the careful process used to make it. The commission would rather that the MCH board had agreed to go with its client, Avita Health. Avita’s 2018 audited financials were just recently made pubic.
“While those demonstrated losses of nearly $34 million for fiscal years 2017 and 2018, indebtedness of $93 million, the MCH board nonetheless asked its consultants to fully evaluate the Avita ‘offer’ made to the commission back in August.”
According to the commissioners’ news release, the complaint, filed in the Ohio Court of Claims, is seeking public records “that would explain a mysterious $1.3 million donation made in December of 2016 by the hospital’s management company, OhioHealth.
According to the complaint, the payment was made because the giant healthcare corporation provided bad management advice to the hospital. Without notifying the public, the hospital board members apparently negotiated a secret settlement that resulted in the $1.3 million payment.”
“Morrow County taxpayers have invested more than $30 million in our hospital over the last 20 years and they deserve to have a voice in the hospital’s future,” Whiston said. “We know that Morrow County families want to have a life-saving emergency room and high-quality medical care close to home and we’re going to keep fighting for the transparency and accountability that will give our citizens a voice in the hospital’s future.”
Morrow County Hospital is one of the few county-owned hospitals remaining in Ohio. Through a property tax levy, the hospital has received more than $30 million in taxpayer money in just the last 20 years. The hospital is responsible for more than $100 million in economic activity in Morrow County and provides some of the highest-paying jobs in the county, according to commissioners.
“Meanwhile, the commissioners continue their campaign to destroy the hospital and spread disinformation. There is not, and never has been, any talk by anyone on the board of closing the emergency room or making massive layoffs,” Drouhard said.
It is case number 2020-00127PQ on the Ohio Court of Claims website.