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Hospital board won’t back down from records request

Hospital board won’t back down from records request

INVERNESS — Pleas Monday by a fundraising arm of Citrus Memorial hospital to call off a public records request by the Citrus County Hospital Board of Trustees fell on deaf ears.

Members of a hospital advisory committee had asked the CCHB to rescind its public records request for the names of people who donated to the hospital’s capital campaign for a wellness and education center at the Allen Ridge facility.

Supervisor of Elections Susan Gill, the committee’s vice chairwoman, read a letter to CCHB members during their monthly meeting that said forcing donors to reveal their names would hurt fundraising efforts with those who prefer to remain anonymous.

“What information do you hope to obtain at the risk of alienating our donors and future donors that is not already publicly displayed on our donor wall in the hospital lobby?” Gill asked.

CCHB attorney Bill Grant sought the names of donors, along with copies of canceled checks. CCHB trustees have not said why they want the information and they offered no opinion Monday, either.

Grant later admonished Citrus Memorial Health System for not formally responding to his public records request. He added  CMHS can redact signatures and checking account numbers from cancelled checks.

“We have a deliberate purpose,” Grant said. “Some of the trustees know why.”

After the meeting, Trustee Debbie Ressler struggled to answer a reporter’s questions about why the board demanded the names of donors in the hospital’s wellness center campaign.

Ressler said the request was based on the board’s wish for “transparency” with the hospital. She suggested the opposition is more aligned with ongoing legal disputes between the Citrus Memorial Health Foundation and CCHB over control of the hospital.

“Some of it may be posturing,” Ressler said. “If everything else wasn’t going on, would it still be an issue?”

Chronicle reporter Mike Wright can be reached at 352-563-3228 or mwright@
chronicleonline.com.