Dear Morrow County residents,
I write in response to Mr. Bill Griffith’s March 16 Letter to the Editor about the Morrow County Hospital Board Appointing Authority.
With all due respect to Mr. Griffith, I would like to correct some misstatements of fact, include a few more facts, and then provide my own perspective as a Morrow County Commissioner.
The meeting Mr. Griffith writes about involving the Hospital Board was not a Commissioners meeting but a Morrow County Hospital Board Appointing Authority meeting. Ohio Revised Code and the Ohio Supreme Court inform us that the Appointing Authority consists of three Commissioners, the senior probate judge, and the senior judge of the court of common pleas. For 68 of the past 70 years the Appointing Authority always included a single vote recorded by each of the three commissioners and then one or two different judges each casting a single vote.
Prior to this year’s March 7 meeting, which is established in Ohio law as the first Monday of March, the Commissioners received numerous letters of interest about appointment to the Morrow County Hospital Board. We promptly shared all of those applications with Judge Hickson.
The Commissioners provided a draft agenda to Judge Hickson ahead of the meeting and he asked for numerous changes. We agreed to all of them. Commissioner Whiston was following that exact agenda when the Judge interrupted him and directed the Clerk on conducting the meeting. Following that, he twice made motions as the senior common pleas judge and then seconded his own motions as probate judge.
Throughout the entire meeting I thought that both Commissioners Siegfried and Whiston conducted themselves professionally and thoughtfully with the dignity required of the situation. And I do believe they showed Judge Hickson far more respect than he did to them. Mr. Griffith also wrote that Commissioners Siegfried and Whiston stated that they would never appoint someone with a medical background to the Hospital Board. That’s simply false. They never stated that and we have posted the audio recording of that meeting so that you can listen to it yourself.
Folks, given the unfortunate amount of conflict between the Commissioners and the Hospital Board over the past few years it was important to make an appointment not rooted in past conflict, nor possessing any conflict of interest. The Commissioners have posted numerous Ohio Ethics Commission opinions to the morrowcountyohio.gov website so that you can review these documents yourself.
As to advice to the Hospital Board from the medical community there has been a great deal of that over the past two years including a special survey dedicated just to hospital employees. The Hospital Board
also continues to receive direct guidance by OhioHealth Senior Vice President Cheryl Herbert at almost every Hospital Board and Finance Committee meeting. They are also advised on a continuous basis by Dr. Matthew Hintz as an ex officio member of the Hospital Board.
I want everyone to know I viewed this appointment as an incredibly important decision. I waited to see all of the applications and reviewed each of them carefully. I prayed a lot about this. And I know that Commissioners Siegfried and Whiston did likewise.
I was proud to cast a vote for Jennifer Williams. She is a long-time resident of our county with a history of community involvement. She is a successful businesswoman who, with her husband, owns Weiland’s Market in Clintonville. She was even recently profiled in Columbus CEO for her leadership abilities. Jennifer was picked to be Chair of the Morrow County Health Initiative Citizens Advisory Group by the three members appointed by the Commissioners and the three members appointed by the Hospital Board. She successfully led that effort, meeting with a group of people with often opposing views on a weekly basis over nearly six months. While not all of the members completely agreed with all of the recommendations from their final report, they all agreed to issue a single report. That’s the kind of leadership we need today.
In looking forward to what’s in the best interest of all of our residents, I encourage everyone to focus on the outcome that keeps a hospital and emergency room here in our county, that protects our employees, that increases services, and that gets county government out of the hospital business.
So with that, let’s all support the Morrow County Hospital Board in doing their work openly, fairly, and through a competitive process bringing the best possible outcome for all.
Commissioner Tim Abraham