GILLETTE, Wyo. — Election season is well underway and County 17 has sent a list of questions to each candidate who has filed to run for office.
These questions are designed to give our readers a better understanding of the people behind the names on the ballot. All candidate responses submitted to County 17 are republished as they are received.
Below, get to know Bill Rice who is running for a spot on the Campbell County Health Board of Trustees:
- Who are you? (name, where you’re from, employment, hobbies, etc.)
I am Bill Rice. My wife Cynde and I have raised our 5 children in Gillette. Now we get to see some of our grandchildren being raised in this same community. I retired from Campbell County Health after 26 years as a manager and director of several departments and clinics. My hobbies include working out, spending time with grandchildren and watching our grandchildren’s sport and academic events who live in Gillette, Omaha and Austin Texas.
- Why have you decided to run for office and what do you hope to accomplish should you be elected?
I have 3 major concerns that are having a major impact on our community.; #1. Financially – I am concerned when CCH’s current CEO was quoted as saying; “if the hospital’s direction does not change, CCH could be insolvent within 4 years”. #2. I am concerned with the lack of communication as demonstrated by paying a $62,000 performance bonus to a CEO, who was then fired 45 days later and then paid an additional $675,000 severance package. #3. I am concerned by a lack of transparency as demonstrated by the secretly closing and the poor handling of the Hospice house or Close to Home. I believe that my experience especially in the hospital setting can address these concerns to benefit Campbell County.
- How do you plan on accomplishing your goals?
Accountability is the key to success for any organization. If I am elected, I will hold the CCH administration financially accountable by asking tough questions about their programs, ideas and course of action. I will follow up on these programs, ideas and course of action to ensure they are financially responsible, that they are communicated to the public, that we are transparent to the public and not just rubber stamped approval.
- What experience do you have that qualifies you for the office you are seeking?
I bring 26 years of excell working knowledge of CCH. As a manager and director of several departments and clinics we were focused on being financially sound, providing excellent patient care and having open communication within our staff, patients and the public.
- Do you feel you could be a good steward with taxpayer dollars? Why or why not?
Having been a taxpayer of this community for over 40 years, I understand that our taxpayer dollars CANNOT be frivolously spent. After 26 years of doing multiple CCH department budgets, I understand the importance of CCH being financially responsible with taxpayer dollars. I believe monthly tracking of revenue and expenses in all departments and clinics is necessary in achieving long term financial goals.
- On the issue of transparency, where do you stand on ensuring all public business is conducted openly and in a manner that encourages public attendance?
The CCH fiscal year runs from July through June. The current CEO stated CCH could be insolvent within 4 years if the hospital’s direction is not changed. CCH lost 25 million dollars last year and is budgeting to breakeven this fiscal year. I am amazed at the lack of hospital discussion and transparency from our current board regarding the hospital’s financial status. There have been no financial profit/loss reports, information, status or discussion at the first two board meetings of this new year (July & August). The Hospital Board’s fiscal responsibility is to keep the community informed on the hospital’s financial status. Is CCH heading in the right financial direction? We currently have no way of knowing.
7. Do you believe the office or board position you seek has been open and honest with the public?If yes, how can the entity remain open and transparent when conducting public business moving forward. If no, what changes would you implement to ensure that all future dealings are open and transparent?
After the secret closing and poor handling of the hospice house, I would think CCH would be more transparent, however the following shows a lack of transparency:
I understand the CCH Emergency and Hospitalist physicians were sent a late night email on a Friday informing them their contracts were ending December 31, 2022. The physicians had two options. Either find new employment or go to work with a new management group CCH had hired.
If open communication and transparency is not granted to current CCH physicians and employees, retention efforts will remain in a downward spiral. The lack of transparency and secrecy must stop to give proper respect to current CCH staff and maintain a high level of patient care and patient satisfaction.
- If you are presiding over a meeting and a topic was being discussed that you didn’t fully understand, would you ask for a more detailed explanation during the meeting or would you seek the information after the meeting?
If the topic of discussion did not include personnel, corrective action, legal action or purchase of property, I would ask for a more detailed explanation during the meeting.
- Should you be elected, or re-elected, do you plan on seeking any major policy changes in your chosen office? If yes, what would those changes be? If not, why not?
The first thing I would do is bring CCH and the Health Foundation together to eliminate any further legal expenses and resolve the hospice house or Close to Home issue. That building has been sitting vacant for over 2 years. Private citizens have donated over 4 million dollars for that facility. Even if CCH does not want to offer hospice service, let the Health Foundation use the building for whatever purposes they please. We need a win/win/win solution for the hospital, Foundation and community.