Board recall effort at Oregon hospital won't proceed

Efforts by two unions seeking the ouster of Bay Area Hospital elected board members will not move forward due to lack of enough valid signatures of registered district voters.

United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555 and the Oregon Nurses Association, which represent workers at the Coos Bay, Ore.-based hospital, initially launched a petition drive in July alleging the hospital's board is responsible for staffing issues and care quality issues at the facility.

The unions gathered signatures that members said would have almost certainly allowed voters to decide on the possible recall of all six board members. However, during their campaign, the unions allege that there was theft of signatures, resulting in recall petitions only being filed against two board members — Thomas McAndrew, MD, and Donna Rabin, MD. Signatures for those petitions were submitted to the Coos County Clerk on Oct. 18.

Ultimately, the county determined that not enough valid signatures of registered district voters were collected to proceed, according to a hospital news release shared with Becker's.

Dr. McAndrew said in the release, "I have volunteered 22 years as an elected board member committed to the success of Bay Area Hospital. The board's role is a strategic oversight and not control of day-to-day operations. We supported our staff with high-cost agency labor to get us through the pandemic but with unsustainable financial losses. Our mental health unit is one of only 12 in the 62 Oregon hospitals. We have found funding for this year while we work with community partners to fix a broken state mental health system. Our employees are the heart of this organization, and their success is our success."

The hospital added that each board member "brings unique expertise to the [board], which is charged with setting healthcare policy and overseeing quality compliance. We are grateful to them for continuing to faithfully serve our community without compensation during this unwarranted attack. We also want to thank the community for seeing through this effort and recognizing the extreme challenges that hospitals are facing today."

The Oregon Nurses Association and workers union UFCW 555 shared the following statement with Becker's: "Despite electioneering by the taxpayer-financed hospital administration and a secretive and non-compliant signature-counting process that appears to have disenfranchised a number of active voters, we will continue to explore our legal options in order to get residents of the district the care, accountability and recognition we all deserve."

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