Personnel matters prompt hospital board executive session

The South Peninsula Hospital Board of Directors went into executive session at its Wednesday night meeting to discuss personnel matters, after an employee began to speak about why she transferred departments.

Sarah Bollwitt, who identified herself as an occupational therapist at the hospital, began speaking during the first public comment period of the meeting about her transfer from the rehabilitation department to work in home health . She said she was representing herself and others who had trusted her with their stories.

Bollwitt began to talk about how other members in the rehabilitation department spoke favorably about the department’s former director “without consideration for any opposing viewpoints…”

At this point, Board Vice President Thomas Clark stopped the testimony and suggested the board host an executive session at the end of the meeting, during which they invited Bollwitt to make her statements directly to the board.

“We’re straying into very difficult territory here legally,” Clark said during the meeting.

According to the board’s “Rules for Participating in a Public Meeting,” people making public comments are not allowed to disparage “by name the reputation or character of any member of the Operating Board of directors, the administration or personnel of (South Peninsula Hospital Inc.), or the public.”

Board member Matt Hambrick read these rules aloud at the start of the meeting.

“You are not allowed to mention or use the name of individuals,” Hambrick read.

At the time Bollwitt was asked to stop speaking, she had not used a specific name. After the meeting, Clark said the board went into executive session to discuss personnel matters. Bollwitt and a few other meeting attendees spoke with the board members in the executive session one by one.

Clark and Hambrick said after the meeting that Bollwitt’s public testimony was beginning to go in the direction of specifically naming someone. The board’s meeting rules are adapted from those used by the South Peninsula Hospital Service Area Board, a publicly elected board of the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

Maria Soto, who works in purchasing for the hospital and is chief steward for the local teamsters, gave public comment in which she talked about the importance of the hospital making people feel safe when coming forward to report things like harassment. She told the board that she gets numerous calls from hospital staff about things that have happened to them and that she’s not sure where to take the information.

Soto spoke of the national #MeToo movement, commenting that the hospital should have a way to prepare for people coming forward, and a plan for moving forward after they do.

Ginny Espenshade, a Homer lawyer and executive director of the Kenai Peninsula Youth Court, also made public comments regarding how to handle reports of harassment. She said she’s concerned that a message is being sent that it’s OK for women to come forward and report incidents, but that there isn’t necessarily the proper follow through to back it up.

The hospital’s new Chief Executive Officer, Joe Woodin, made his first appearance at a board meeting Wednesday. He expressed his excitement to be living and working in Homer. Woodin was slated to officially start work March 26.

Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.

More in News

Clem Tillion of Halibut Cove poses for a photo on Jan. 9, 2020, in Homer, Alaska. The veteran Alaska legislator was passing through Homer while waiting to take the M/V Tustumena ferry to Kodiak. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Clem Tillion, PFD founder and former legislator, dies at 96

Tillion died Wedneday, Oct. 13, at Halibut Cove home.

Thunder Mountain High School on April 18.  Earlier this fall, vandalism including stolen soap dispensers and toilets clogged with foreign objects such as paper towel rolls were a problem at schools nationwide and in Juneau. But, principals say the local situation is improving. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
After brief surge, vandalism subsiding at local high schools

Principals say internet trends, stress likely behind incidents.

In this Jan. 8, 2020, photo Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, heads to a briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington. An Alaska man faces federal charges after authorities allege he threatened to hire an assassin to kill Murkowski, according to court documents unsealed Wed., Oct. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite,File)
Delta Junction man faces charges over threatening Murkowski’s life

Authorities allege he threatened to hire an assassin to kill the senator.

Donna Aderhold recites the Homer City Council oath of office and is sworn in for duty at the city council meeting on Oct. 11. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
New council members sworn into duty Monday

Newly-elected Homer City Council members Shelly Erickson and Jason Davis and re-elected… Continue reading

Runners participate in boys varsity race at the Ted McKenney XC Invitational on Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. The trails recently reported incidents of vandalism and theft. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Vandalism and theft reported at Tsalteshi Trails

One trail user reported stolen skis recently and multiple signs have been defaced.

At left Bonita Banks, RN, Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) nurse at Homer Medical Center, and at right, Annie Garay, RN, Community Health Educator, pose for a photo at South Peninsula Hospital on Sept. 27, 2021, at Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Derotha Ferraro/South Peninsula Hospital)
New hospital community health educator starts

Garay, a Homer raised nurse, came home to ride out COVID-19, wound up doing pandemic nursing.

The logo for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is displayed inside the George A. Navarre Borough Admin Building on Thursday, July 22, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Montessori school goes to universal indoor masking

As of Tuesday, eight KPBSD schools were operating with universal indoor masking for staff and students.

Commercial fishing and other boats are moored in the Homer Harbor in this file photo. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Seawatch: Crabbers look at cuts to quotas

Tanner, opilio crab quotas cut on top of cancellation of fall king crab fishery.

Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Judge sides with psychiatrists who alleged wrongful firing

Two psychiatrists said they were wrongfully fired when Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy took office.

Most Read