Our View: Let the Sunshine in
May 12, 2006
The Colorado Open Meetings Act requires public entities to open their meetings to community members for attendance, comment and debate.
It is referred to as the Sunshine Law, which alludes to letting the light shine on the governmental process.
The boardroom at The Memorial Hospital has been dim lately.
The hospital’s investigation into its practices continues amid claims by the former chief of staff of Medicare fraud and patient neglect.
We commend the hospital for taking the accusations seriously and having the initiative to launch an investigation into its staff and medical activities.
But an area that administrators and board members need to re-evaluate and improve on is the manner of releasing information to the public.
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Outside of a brief statement and a news conference earlier this month, the hospital has kept discussion about investigation findings behind closed doors.
And information they have released has been limited.
Why are they trying to keep the public — the people who entrust the hospital with their safety and that of their loved ones — in the dark?
Hospital officials say the initial findings of the investigation show that none of the allegations made by Dr. Michael Crane are true.
We’re pleased about that.
We’re also reassured that officials speak candidly about the investigation revealing areas of improvement needed at the hospital and that they are ready to make those a top priority.
Among those shortcomings are medical staff relations and documentation. We hope the hospital sticks to its word and makes a concerted effort to strengthen those areas of practice.
But, we also hope officials realize that the public’s main concern is not whether doctors communicate with one another or whether forms are filled out correctly.
For trained professionals, that should be a given.
What the public cares about, and rightly so, is knowing that they and their loved ones will be well taken care of if they need help from The Memorial Hospital.
Keeping hospital business in the dark and out of the public’s view is making the public suspicious and causing people to lose respect for this pillar of our community. If the public isn’t confident that they will be taken care of, they will go elsewhere.
No one wants to see that happen.
Knowing that hospital administrator George Rohrich would take his 85-year-old mother to TMH is reassuring, at least to a degree. But, it doesn’t do much for community members who are leery of being treated at TMH because they don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors.
The public wants, and needs, to be informed about the activities of a partially tax-funded facility.
It’s their right to see whatever it is the hospital is keeping in the dark.