Boomerang file photo

The Ivinson Memorial Hospital District Board — previously an elected body of seven members — voted Wednesday to reduce its membership to five.

With the District Board handing off operational control and decision-making at the hospital to a separate, appointed Board of Directors, District Board Chair Guy Warpness said a smaller outfit would be sufficient and easier to fill.

“The board size at five is still ample,” he said.

“At some point, if it’s deemed necessary that we need more people on that board, we can always increase it back to seven.”

As part of the downsizing, former Secretary Catie Ballard and former Trustee Dennis Cook turned in letters of resignation during the District Board’s meeting Wednesday — letters which were accepted minutes before the board voted to drop from seven to five members.

“It’s not a hard decision because I’m not really gone,” Ballard said.

Both Ballard and Cook — as well as Treasurer Rick Melone — will serve on the Board of Directors, providing guidance during the transition.

“Nobody is actually leaving,” Ballard said. “We’re using everyone who has been there and continuing to grow this directorship and trusteeship in, I think, a very usable model that doesn’t leave folks just floating without really good training.”

The District Board is leasing most of its responsibilities — as well as all hospital facilities — to an 11-member Board of Directors, who oversee a nonprofit corporation established for the purpose of running IMH.

As longtime members of the District Board — having served more than two decades between them — Ballard and Cook will provide institutional and historical insight to the new directors.

Ballard added most members of the District Board would help in this capacity by taking positions on committees formed by the Board of Directors.

“What happens often in board work and many different structures is that there’s no transition time when you’re changing things,” Ballard said. “The folks that are on the District Board will also be populating committees because they’ve been doing that work for a long time.”

With fewer direct responsibilities, the elected trustees expect to see reduced interest in the District Board — which is the main rationale for downsizing — but Cook said the trustees’ role will still be vital.

“The District Board still is the landlord, owns all the property and has oversight to make sure that the new nonprofit corporation board maintains high standards and keeps the hospital financially sound,” he said.

Warpness described the resignations as “bittersweet,” saying Ballard and Cook would still be very active in the operation of the hospital.

“They’re long-term members of this, been involved for years,” he said. “I’m just grateful they’re sticking around to see all of this through to fruition ... They’re still there, they’re still active, they’re still involved and they still truly care about the community and the hospital and everybody’s well-being.”

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