Described as a “fluid situation” which is changing on a daily, near-hourly basis, the five-member board of directors of Lake Fork Health Service District has now been reduced to two — Shawna Shidler and Jerry Johnson — following the resignations of three embattled directors — Janella Cox, Carole Clauss, and Fred Stapleton — whose resignations had repeatedly been sought at recent board meetings.
As detailed following the board’s special meeting last Friday morning, July 28, both Cox and Clauss submitted their resignations respectively effective July 27 and July 28.
The resignation of the third health board director, Fred Stapleton was confirmed by a letter dated Tuesday, August 1, and reprinted in its entirety in the letters section, page 2, of this week’s WORLD.
Once confirmed to Hinsdale County Clerk Joan Roberts with attesting signatures on the resignation letters from each of the directors, it is anticipated that petitions signed by in excess of 300 registered voters seeking a recall election will be withdrawn.
In a separate boxed article also in his issue, SILVER WORLD conducted a brief interview with the two remaining directors, their sentiments also including reference to the interim contract for continued services at the clinic which has been signed by Dr. Beuford Durmon.
A full range of emotions ranging from tears to jubilation was evident during a five-minute special meeting of Lake Fork Health Service Directors on Friday, July 28.
Addressing in excess of 80 individuals in the standing-room-only audience, health board director Shawna Shidler choked back tears as she asked the audience, “please let us do our business.”
Shidler, who was joined at the directors’ table by Fred Stapleton and Jerry Johnson, emotionally referred to the fact that out of a five-member board, “three directors have shown up.”
The status of the two absent directors, chairperson Janella Cox and board secretary Carole Clauss, was not fully explained at the short meeting, although it was later confirmed that both directors have now resigned.
Without specifying either Cox or Clauss, Shidler did state “there are two resignations as of now.”
For individuals interested in filling one of the health board vacancies, Shidler told audience members to drop off notice of intent with business manager Jessica Whiddon, at the medical center’s front desk.
After announcement of board resignations, next on the morning’s terse agenda was a report from board member Jerry Johnson on meetings which have occurred between resigned medical center physician Dr. Beuford Durmon and Johnson and Shidler, on behalf of Lake Fork Health Service District, with two public representatives, Janet Potter and Danielle Worthen.
Loud cheers from the audience greeted Johnson’s announcement that an interim contract has been worked out for Dr. Durmon’s continued assistance at the local medical clinic after his announced August 1 resignation.
Johnson stated that he and Shidler, with Potter and Worthen, met a total of three times for “quite lengthy meetings”with Dr. Durmon. The result, as reported by Johnson at the meeting, is an agreement for Dr. Durmon’s continued assistance at the medical center through an interim contract.
“The next step,” according to Johnson, “is to take a vote on that agreement… we need a motion.”
To continued cheers and applause from the audience, the motion to accept the contract was made by Johnson and seconded Shidler; roll call vote resulted in two votes in the affirmative from Johnson and Shidler, and a no vote from health board director Fred Stapleton.
Shidler then announced that the motion had passed and the interim contract formally approved.
Applause continued in the room as the brief meeting was adjourned five minutes after it commenced.
As Rick Hernandez stood to make a statement, health board director Stapleton and several other members of the audience made a deliberate exodus. Hernandez, who has been actively involved in a petition effort to recall Cox, Clauss, and Stapleton from the health board, addressed fellow audience members and the remaining health board directors.
“The focus now,” he said, “must be on healing and getting back on track without affecting our health offerings.”
“The model Dr. Durmon brought here is a good model,” Hernandez added.
Concluding his remarks, audience applause again erupted as Hernandez expressed thanks to the two citizen members, Danielle Worthen and Janet Potter, who joined health board directors Johnson and Shidler in meeting with Dr. Durmon.
SILVER WORLD has obtained copies of resignation letters submitted to the health district board by Janella Cox and Carole Clauss, Cox’s dated July 25 with an effective date of 4:30 p.m. on July 27, and Clauss’s resignation letter dated July 28.
In her two-sentence letter, Clauss states she is immediately resigning as secretary of the board of directors, noting “Board members have become non-responsive to my communications, effectively ending any sharing of critical information. Therefore, I can no longer participate effectively.”
Cox states in her resignation that she wishes to no longer be involved with the health district, instead concentrating on other priorities in her life. “My number one consideration at this time is to enjoy my retirement and take care of my health.”
Cox expresses thanks to fellow board members, staff at the clinic, and specifically cites business manager Jessica Whiddon who, according to Cox, “is an invaluable asset to the clinic and the Board due to her experience and depth of knowledge.”
Cox concludes her resignation letter by stating, “I would hope that the most vociferous and emotional critics of the current Board will [be] the first to step forward and volunteer to serve. I am sure they each have the necessary knowledge and experience to carry on.”
The resignation letters of both Cox and Clauss from last week, and Stapleton’s from early this week, are reprinted in their entirety in this week’s letters section.
Resignation Letters of Cox, Clauss, Stapleton from Health District Board:
August 1, 2017
Lake Fork Health Service District
Board of Directors
PO Box 999
700 Henson Street
Lake City, CO 81235
Current Board Members and Citizens of the District:
As of midnight, August 1, 2017, I am resigning my position on the Lake City Area Medical Center Board of Directors for the following reasons:
1. The harassment, name calling and verbal abuse the Board of Directors and their families have endured.
2. The failure of involved parties to discuss their issues in a calm and rational manner.
3. The lynch mob mentality of those attending the board meetings by shouting and other inappropriate behavior to the point of interfering with the Board of Directors’ ability to conduct the board meeting.
4. The fact the District Board failed to act and follow EEOC rules and regulations, Colorado Health Rules and Regulations, and CMS rules and regulations.
Board of Directors
Lake Fork Health Service District
Lake City, CO 81235
I am going to resign my position as President of the Board of Directors effective immediately today, July 27, 2017, 4:30 p.m. I do not wish to be further involved due to having other priorities in my life. My number one consideration at this time is to enjoy my retirement and take care of my health.
I have appreciated the hard work that the other Board members have contributed. Also, I very much appreciate the staff at the clinic who has worked to [sic] hard to keep things running smoothly during the busy summer months. A huge thank you to Jessica Whiddon who is such an integral part of keeping the clinic operating. She is an invaluable asset to the clinic and the Board due to her experience and depth of knowledge.
I would hope that the most vociferous and emotional critics of the current Board will [be] the first to step forward to volunteer to serve. I am sure they each have the necessary knowledge and experience to carry on.
Janella Cox, R.N. (Ret.)
To LFHSD Board of Directors, Nancy Zeller, Jessica Whiddon, Michael Luedeke
Please consider this notice of my resignation as Secretary from the Board of Directors of LFHSD effective immediately.
Board members have become nonresponsive to my communications, effectively ending any sharing of critical information. Therefore, I can no longer participate effectively.