Moffat commissioners discuss potential new MRH board members
Moffat County Commissioners met on Thursday morning to review letters of interest for the open seat on Memorial Regional Hospital’s board of trustees.
Commissioner Donald Broom said that the commissioners’ intention is to take as much time as it needs to take in order to get the right person to fill that role. With two more board members finishing their terms in January, commissioner Tony Bohrer said, it’s possible that the commissioners may wait to fill all of those seats at one time. MRH board chairman Kelly Hepworth’s and 25-year board veteran Don Myers’s terms will end in January, as well.
“We really hadn’t had time to do what we’re doing right now — to discuss this between the three of us,” Broom said. “We’re not going to rush this deal. We’re going to look at all of (the letters), and we’re going to put some effort into making sure that we pick the right person.”
Seven community members have sent in letters of intent to the commissioners: Katie Blankenship, Hannah Beaudin, Neilene Folks, John Kinkaid, Cory Overton, Dale Peterson and Roger Richmond. Commissioners briefly spoke about each of the candidates’ backgrounds, which range from healthcare to human resources to owning local businesses.
The commissioners were joined Thursday by Hepworth and interim CEO Jennifer Riley. Though Riley and Hepworth do not have a final word on who is chosen for the board (only the commissioners can do that), they did relay some areas or expertises that could be beneficial in the board’s new seat.
“We don’t want somebody that just agrees with us,” Hepworth said. “We’re looking for somebody, though, that is open minded. Someone that brings in perspective and experience that maybe we don’t have. We don’t want somebody to come on board that’s got an agenda — that is coming in there with a purpose in mind doing something that may not be productive. And that’s all we’re asking for.”
Riley added that she also values diversity in perspective, knowledge and background on the board as well. She specifically asked the commissioners to consider a female board member since, as of now, there is only one woman who serves on the board.
“It’s not male versus female, but women do make a lot of the healthcare decisions for a family,” Riley said. “They are the primary healthcare decider, and they do bring a different voice. I mean our guys (on the board) are great, but we have just one female. When Don Myers sent me a note saying he wasn’t going to renew his seat, he said he was going to recommend, when he resigned, that you will consider appointing more females.”
When a new board member is chosen, Hepworth said, they go through an orientation period which includes tours of the hospital and meeting key figures of hospital administration. This helps them gain as much information as possible while also getting them acquainted with which people might be able to answer questions they may have in the future. Most of the people who submitted for the open board seat — Kinkaid excepted — have not sat on the MRH board before.
With recent turnover at hospital administration, Riley said that this could be a new beginning for the hospital’s future. She said that as recently as Thursday morning, there was, again, more change at the top of the hospital. MRH Chief Financial Officer Dean Correnti, who was set to take over for former CFO Sam Radke, who announced retirement earlier this year, would soon leave MRH as well because of unforeseen private circumstances. Correnti will hand the financial reins to current director of accounting Brittany Johnson.
Hepworth also said that he hopes that the board for the hospital can have more collaboration with the commissioners and more community engagement at its monthly meetings, and during public meetings with Riley every four months. Last week, Riley hosted the first of these meetings, which was attended by approximately 40 community members who wanted to hear updates and voice concerns with her.
“Bottom line is we want to work closer with you guys, and do anything we can for you,” Hepworth said. “And our goals coming out of our August retreat — number one was to strengthen our relationship with the community, and the other one was to strengthen our culture within the hospital. Those are our two biggest goals.”
In October, the commissioners sent out a release asking for the letters, which were due by Nov. 15. Board members for MRH usually serve five years, but because this opening replaces a current trustee that is resigning, the end of the open seat’s term will be in January of 2026. Todd Jourgensen will resign from his position on the board at the end of this year.
Composed of seven Moffat County residents that represent the city of Craig and other communities, the Board of Trustees at Memorial Regional Health volunteer an average of 20 hours each month in committee meetings, educational sessions, fundraising, community interactions and regular monthly board meetings where decisions are made. Last month, the board decided to appoint Riley as the interim CEO of MRH after former CEO Andy Daniels announced his resignation in October.
Current board members have been tasked to decide who the official new CEO of the hospital will be in the coming months.
The decision for the new hospital board member will likely take time over the next few weeks, and, as the pool of candidates narrows, commissioners will reach out to interview candidates over the course of the decision.
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