‘A loss for the hospital’ | CraigDailyPress.com

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‘A loss for the hospital’

TMH officials: Outgoing board member’s knowledge, experience will be missed

Outgoing TMH Board chairwoman Missy Bonaker (right) and newly appointed chairman Gary Ellgen

At a glance …

Moffat County Commission appointed new member Gary Ellgen and reappointed longtime member Don Myers to The Memorial Hospital Board on Wednesday.

Missy Bonaker, board chairwoman and member for seven years, was not reappointed.

Commissioners: Decision on Bonaker made in the interests of bringing new people on the board.

Missy Bonaker doesn't need to go far to see a result from her years of service to The Memorial Hospital Board.

The new hospital, perched atop a hill in northwest Craig, is easily visible from Moffat County Road 7.

She doesn't need time to ponder before she names the new facility as her proudest achievement on the board.

"That's an easy one," she said.

But starting next month, a new person will take Bonaker's place on the board.

The three-member Moffat County Commission chose Craig resident Gary Ellgen for the seat she holds.

Bonaker sought reappointment, as did other longtime board member Don Myers, but the commission granted Myers' request alone.

Bonaker was informed she was not reappointed when contacted by a Craig Daily Press reporter Wednesday.

"We like to just kind of have … a mix of experience along with a mix of fresh ideas" on the board, Commission Chairman Tom Gray said on the decision to not reappoint Bonaker.

"We like to send the message that when you have a board, that there's always room for new ideas and new people," he said. "And you don't want to ever get into a position where the community thinks that once (board members) are there, they're there until (they) choose to go off."

Commissioner Audrey Danner expressed a similar view.

"We had to look at all of the candidates and this criteria of how could we keep all of our boards … viable in the future," she said, and that includes infusing new members to the board.

She commended Bonaker on her service to TMH.

"She has served very capably, and I certainly appreciate that," Danner said. "I told her that (Wednesday)."

Commissioner Tom Mathers could not be reached for comment.

'It meant a lot to me'

As Bonaker looked back on the last seven years, she came back often to the new hospital on the hill.

"It was a pretty exciting time, building the new hospital," she said.

Later, she paused.

"I don't know," she said. "How do I explain it?

"It meant a lot to me — just the commitment to build the hospital and getting it built."

She began her tenure in 2004, when she replaced her late husband, Jack. She worked her way through the ranks of the board, serving as treasurer, then vice chairwoman and finally chairwoman.

As owner of Bonaker and Associates, she possessed business experience that was "a big asset to the board," said Jennifer Riley, the hospital's chief of organizational excellence.

Bonaker's years of service yielded another crucial component.

"Missy had been on the board for a long enough time that she possessed an enormous amount of institutional knowledge," Riley said.

The hospital board won't suffer once Bonaker leaves, Riley said. The knowledge she had can be built again in new members, but her absence will be felt, she said.

"It's definitely a loss for the hospital and the board as a whole because I think she's a really strong member," she said.

George Rohrich, the hospital's chief executive officer, agreed.

"We'll all miss her experience and her knowledge of what's taken place in the past," he said.

Rohrich declined to comment on the commission's decision to not reappoint Bonaker.

"I work for the board and do not get involved in the politics of how the board is selected," he said. "I very deliberately keep out of that."

Bonaker's last board meeting is Jan. 26.

Looking ahead

As the board moves forward, Bonaker said she hopes it will reach another goal she helped initiate.

Last year, the board voted to pursue the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality award, a national accolade that recognizes performance excellence in a variety of sectors, including health care.

"I'm so proud of the hospital because that is their role now — to provide great service and quality," Bonaker said.

For his part, Ellgen said he is looking forward to sitting on the board.

Board service isn't new to the lifelong Craig resident and local rancher.

He served on the Moffat County School Board from the mid-1990s through the mid-2000s, he said, and his tenure included a two-year term as board president.

"It was a neat experience," he said. "I felt like I ought to do a little something, I guess, to kind of give back to the community."

For the first few months, though, Ellgen intends to focus on becoming familiar with the hospital and his role in it.

"This is going to be a steep learning curve to begin with," he said.

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