MOUNT GILEAD — The Morrow County Hospital Board’s attempt to throw out an Open Meetings Act lawsuit was rejected Nov. 25 by visiting Common Pleas Court Judge Patricia Cosgrove.
The hospital board had argued that there was no evidence of them holding secret meetings, violating Ohio law and planning to shut down the hospital. The judge rejected their argument and ruled that the hospital board must defend what it did in court, states a news release issued Monday by the Morrow County Commissioners.
“This lawsuit is about protecting the public hospital in Morrow County that taxpayers have invested tens of millions of dollars in levy money over the years,” Commissioner Burgess Castle said. “We want to preserve our hospital, expand healthcare services in Morrow County, and do that in a fair, competitive, open, and legal process with full involvement of the public.”
The complaint alleges that the hospital board created a secret committee to oversee the single largest healthcare decision in Morrow County’s history and ultimately sold valuable public assets for pennies on the dollar. Following months of illegally closed meetings and email deliberations, the secret committee’s decision to select OhioHealth and plan for the eventual closing of the public hospital was adopted by the entire board with barely any public comment.
Commissioner Warren Davis said, “Judge Cosgrove’s ruling tells the hospital board that they better rethink their continued denials for accountability, for compromise, and to recognize that they work for taxpayers and not for OhioHealth.”
Judge Cosgrove also ordered mediation to take place on Dec. 17.