Roughly 10 percent of the total ballots mailed to Pitkin County voters have been returned so far in this spring’s Aspen Valley Hospital board election. Aspen Public Radio News interviewed the doctors who are running for a board seat.
There are three AVH doctors vying for the two open seats on the board. One is an incumbent. Similar to other candidates, the physicians are concerned with a disconnect between either the administration and the staff or the board and the community.
Incumbent Dr. Mindy Nagle, who has been on the board for eight years, thinks that can and will be fixed with the hiring of a CEO.
“I think the CEO question and job ahead is probably what has created our greatest disconnect because I think that was never well established during our last CEO’s time,” Nagle said. “I think that’s been difficult.”
Nagle praised her co-workers for staying strong during the limbo in leadership.
“The lucky part for us has been the maintenance of the clinical and other administrative staff that has stayed in place,” she said. “That strength of the hospital hasn’t changed.”
Dr. Eric Willsky has been with the hospital for 27 years. He doesn’t only credit the disconnect with the lack of a CEO. He said the board has not properly monitored the performance of past hires.
“That’s where the previous boards have failed and I’ve been, on more than one occasion, fairly disappointed in how long it took for the board to realize what was so evident amongst the working people at the hospital,” Willsky said.
Looking forward, Willsky said the choice of the next CEO will have to be given a great deal of consideration.
“We have to be extremely careful on who we select, make sure they understand the needs of a smaller institution and how important it is to work collaboratively with all the stakeholders,” he said.
Dr. Greg Balko, a 17-year veteran at AVH, stressed the importance of the new CEO being able to run the hospital so the board doesn’t have to take on that responsibility.
“If the CEO isn’t involved in the day to day operations or doesn’t have an operational background it tends to hurt the organization because he doesn’t have a full understanding,” said Balko, who has previously served on the board.
Balko said if he is elected he will ensure that community members feel like they have a voice in how the hospital is managed.
There is no timeline thus far for when a new CEO would be hired. The hospital has hired a search firm after Dan Bonk resigned in January. Terry Collins, the chief financial officer, is serving as interim CEO.
Election ballots must be returned to AVH's administration office by 7 p.m. on May 3. They can be mailed or dropped off in person.
For the full interview with each candidate, click here.