Boards begin new task

Published 12:58 am Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The governing boards that for years oversaw operations of Washington’s hospital met Tuesday for the first time since the hospital’s management was transferred to University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina and took steps to oversee an escrow account created when the deal with UHS was signed.

The two boards – the Beaufort Regional Health System Board of Commissioners and the Beaufort County Medical Center Board of Trustees – will be tasked with overseeing an account of some $6.07 million that was set aside to cover any liabilities that arise following the signing earlier this year of an affiliation agreement with UHS.

The Greenville-based health system took over management of the hospital and its affiliated medical practices on Sept. 1 as part of a 30-year lease/purchase agreement with the hospital’s boards and the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners.

The escrow account, which will remain in place for five years, was created as part of that agreement along with a $100,000 account to pay for professional services such as accountants, lawyers and consultants to help oversee the account.

While the BRHS and BCMC boards formerly oversaw the operations of the hospital, the boards will now be tasked primarily with overseeing the escrow account, according to Hood Richardson, who was elected chairman of the boards following the resignation of Alice Mills Sadler from the post. Richardson also serves on the county Board of Commissioners.

Sadler announced that she would also resign her seat on the board.

In announcing her decision, Sadler said she was “pleased with our completion of a very important mission” of assuring the people of Beaufort County continued access to quality health care but “there are other things I need and wish to pursue at this time.”

The board also chose Warren Smith to serve as its vice president, Howard Cadmus as secretary and Glenn Simpson as treasurer.

Most of the meeting was held behind closed doors during which time board members talked by telephone with their lawyer, Joseph Kahn.

Following the meeting, Richardson answered questions from the media about the board’s role and the escrow account.

Those funds have been deposited at First Citizens Bank, Richardson said during an interview with members of the press following the meeting.

“The money that is not used will accrue to the (hospital board) authority that is owned by Beaufort County,” he said.

When asked if the liabilities facing the BRHS board were to exceed the amount in the escrow account, Richardson said, “You can’t get blood out of a turnip. This board is a corporate entity.”

The board plans to meet again later this month to discuss the need for accountant and secretarial help, among other issues.