WhidbeyHealth board sets special public meeting for Monday

WhidbeyHealth board commissioners want to hear from the public and health system staff about how it should best move forward and look for a new chief executive officer.

A special meeting set for 5:30-7:30 p.m., Monday, April 1, at WhidbeyHealth Medical Center will not have an official agenda, but instead allow individuals to meet one-on-one with commissioners, said Ron Wallin, board president.

CEO Geri Forbes announced her retirement one week ago, saying she’d remain on the job until July 1.

Each of the five commissioners will be seated at his or her own separate table and each will be taking notes, Wallin said.

“We want people to come with concerns and questions and tell whatever they want to get across,” he said. “We’ve never done this, so this is a first run at trying it.”

The format allows more people to approach the board with concerns, unlike monthly board meetings which limit time and require people sign up in advance of the public comment period. At Monday’s meeting, it will be up to individuals whether they want to give their name, Wallin said.

This will be Wallin’s third time as a commissioner conducting a search for the health system’s top administrator.

“In the past, we didn’t do this kind of public forum,” he said. “This time around, we want to do it right. That’s why we’re doing it.”

Signs have been posted around the hospital encouraging staff to attend Monday’s meeting.

“We’re holding it at 5:30 so people can come after work,” Wallin said.

The notes will be typed up by the board’s assistant and shared among commissioners and discussed at a future board meeting. Wallin said he’s unsure if the information will be compiled in time for the April 8 board meeting.

Wallin also addressed concerns about whether Forbes will receive a buy-out upon leaving.

“There’s not a severance plan for her,” Wallin said. “She’s retiring. If somebody were to resign or be let go, that kicks in severance, per her contract.”

Forbes was hired in February 2015, replacing CEO Tom Tomasino, who resigned after serving more than five years. Her initial contract set a salary of $279,000 and included an annual board-approved bonus equal to 25 percent of her salary if she met board objectives.

Commissioners voted to award Forbes a $70,000 bonus in 2017 and a $60,000 bonus last year.

Her current contract, signed June 1, 2018, stipulates an annual base salary of $390,000 through May 31, 2021.

Meet Whidbey Island Public Hospital District Board of Commissioners 5:30-7:30 p.m., Monday, April 1, in the Robert and June Sebo Health Education Center located on the lower level of the new hospital wing at 101 N. Main Street, Coupeville.

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