Charades can be a fun way to occupy an after-dinner-evening with friends or family.  Pantomiming, gesturing, pretending and making hilarious faces can dissolve into hilarity and satisfaction but is never taken seriously. 

What should not be like a game of charades is a democratic board meeting with a firm purpose to listen to constituents. 

The Hazel Hawkins Hospital Board of Directors meeting held on Monday evening, May 22 seemed to be demonstrating this game. The members minimally speaking progressed through the proper gestures, body language and facial expressions of their agenda. Overflow attendees appeared like a blood spill across the hallway and down two flights of stairs as the hundred nurses wore symbolic red. Inside, the large room that needed to be larger as seating filled, one nurse rose to invite those outside in and was unceremoniously conducted out of the room. That embarrassment allowed the remainder to enter and sit on the floor or stand along the walls because of a chair insufficiency.

As the meeting was called to order, hearing immediately was a problem: the podium microphone was missing, the board microphones did not function and the closed circuit TV had no loud speaker. Regardless, the speakers acknowledged the missing microphones by endeavoring to speak louder.

One by one, nurses braved the muted podium: from ICU, ER and MEDSURG they pleaded for patient care, concern and availability of supplies and drugs. MDs spoke and wondered why other hospitals going through similar financial difficulties had not been contacted for help and ideas.  

Community spokespersons asked for transparent answers concerning invoices and decisions but never received them. These speakers could be seen and heard. They were not playing a game. They intended to be heard; they intended action to result. They were disappointed.

As time ran out, the board voted. Silently, unanimously all hands rose committing a “Yes” vote to file Chapter 9 Bankruptcy.  The meeting was a charade because the board members knew beforehand how they would vote. They had no interest in listening to the voice of the people.  

This board played charades but it was no joke!

Mary Zanger


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