Hospital should be more open with community

Freedom Newspapers

Plains Regional Medical Center officials have assured us there is nothing to worry about. Despite resignations this month from the Clovis hospital’s administrator and two longtime board members, despite a surprise inspection from the Health Department on Feb. 6 that was spurred by an unspecified complaint, we’re told the region’s largest hospital is providing quality health care as usual.

Assurance is nice, but where’s the substance? Our community has a lot of questions that have not been answered about the events of this month. We deserve those answers soon. Among the questions:

• Why did Administrator Brian Bentley quit? Was he asked to resign or was it his choice? Was the resignation tied to the Health Department’s surprise visit?

• Have other key hospital personnel resigned or been fired in connection with the Health Department’s visit?

• What was the complaint the Health Department received that led to the surprise inspection? Who made it and why?

• What did the Health Department find, if anything? What was it looking for?

PRMC officials may not yet have all the answers to these important questions. But we suspect they have some, and the public has a right to hear what they know now.

This is not, after all, a business that sells car parts or blue jeans. We put our lives in the hospital staff’s hands. We deserve to know about any problems that might compromise their efforts to provide quality health care.

Former Board Chairman Steve Hudson and member Allan Haynes told the Clovis News Journal last week their resignations were personal and not related to the Health Department visit, which they said they know nothing about.

Other board members have also claimed to have no information about the Health Department’s visit.

The supposed ignorance from our local hospital leaders is troubling. Also troubling is that nobody has stepped up to explain why Bentley stepped down.

Bentley has failed to return repeated telephone calls seeking comment. Gayla Brumfield, who succeeds Hudson as the new board chairman, said Sunday she doesn’t know why he stepped down. Other PRMC officials have also said they don’t know, or they’ve declined to comment.

The Health Department has refused to share specifics of its visit, saying only the results will be released to hospital officials. Then they will have some time to fix any problems that may be identified.

Haynes told us the Health Department responds to all complaints in similar fashion. He said officials could have been here to investigate serious health concerns, and found only erroneous allegations from a disgruntled employee, or perhaps they found serious problems.

If the hospital hopes to maintain any semblance of credibility, its officials must start answering questions about whatever has happened,
The PRMC board meets tonight for the first time since the resignations and surprise inspection. We hope they use the get-together to compare notes, put together an accurate account of events from the past few weeks and share that information with the community.
Starting now.