Expected Hospital Board Decision Drawing Community Criticism

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — An expected vote Wednesday night by the North Suburban Hospital Board is drawing criticism.

Members will decide if they want to move forward with dissolving the board, which would essentially mean more control for Allina Health.

The board and the proposed item up for vote is getting heat from some community members.

Some are questioning the timing of the actual vote, which comes soon after three healthcare workers filed paperwork to run for board seats and challenge incumbents in the Nov. 8 election.

“The Aug. 16 meeting was cancelled…then the September meeting comes, and we find out just last Saturday [that] on the agenda is to dissolve the board,” said Linda Hamilton, one of the board candidate. “Is it a coincidence? I don’t know the answer to that. Maybe, maybe not.”

Hamilton and two other candidates launched their campaigns on Aug. 16 on a platform referred to as, Save Our Hospital.

They pledge to bring transparency and accountability: two things they claim the community has not received from current board members.

“It was difficult to find out [when the meetings were] and what they were talking about,” Hamilton said. “That’s not the kind of public representation I want.”

Unity Hospital and Allina Health Facility was founded in 1966 by the North Suburban Hospital District.

Allina Health released a statement Wednesday following what it calls a misunderstanding of the relationship between itself and the board.

A spokesperson said that Unity Hospital’s operations have been controlled solely by Allina Health for decade, adding that the board has no decision-making authority over the hospital’s operations.

However, Allina says the Unity Hospital building and its land are owned by the North Suburban Hospital District. In the future, Allina says it might have an option to buy that land if the board votes to dissolve.

The North Suburban Hospital District collects about $1.7 million per year in local tax revenue from the hospital, Allina Health says. The hospital says it’s up to the board if it wants to dissolve and stop collecting that money, which currently goes toward the hospital’s infrastructure.

Meanwhile, the board candidates plan to speak out before Wednesday’s meeting, which is slated for 6:30 p.m.

Unity Hospital is one of the five Allina Health hospitals where nurses are on strike.

The other hospitals are Mercy, United, Abbott Northwestern and the Phillips Eye Institute.

More than 4,000 union nurses walked off the job in the Twin Cities on Labor Day.

They have been unable to reach a new three-year contract with Allina Health.

The main sticking point has been health insurance.

No new talks are scheduled.

More from Ashley Roberts
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