Editorials

If the era of secrecy is over at SRHS, perhaps its darkest days are, too

A crowd of retirees and patients of ousted Dr. Terry Millette and other interested, wait to speak to the Singing River Health System Board of Trustees.
A crowd of retirees and patients of ousted Dr. Terry Millette and other interested, wait to speak to the Singing River Health System Board of Trustees. klnelson@sunherald.com

Yes, sometimes government works.

Not that long ago, the Singing River Health System, to put it mildly, was a mess. Its pension system was in doubt. Employees and retirees were on edge. Lawsuits were filed. Executives bolted.

And the Board of Trustees appointed by the Jackson County Board of Supervisors was less than forthcoming, taking full advantage of an exemption from open meetings laws.

But the employees stuck together, protested loudly, and in the end, got the attention of the Legislature, and state Sen. Brice Wiggins in particular. It wasn’t easy, but a bill survived Jackson that would end most of the secrecy and would lead to an overhaul of the Board of Trustees.

Some cause for heartburn remains at SRHS. The pension system’s problems are yet to be resolved, for example.

But the new board gives us hope. It is listening, at least.

Case in point: Tuesday, the board opened its meeting to any patient or retiree who wanted to talk about the health care system.

There was a lot to talk about — the firing of neurologist Dr. Terry Millette, the exit of Chief Executive Office Kevin Holland and the pension system.

And trustees James Epting, Randall Doyle, Auwilda Polk, Jeffery Belk, Don Baron and Steven Ates listened.

And lo and behold, they learned something.

“I think we heard some things we probably haven’t heard before,” Epting said. “I took a lot of notes to look into problems that were brought out.”

We have said this many times.

Listening, even to the cranks, never hurts. And more often than not, it helps.

We won’t know for some time whether the interaction with the people will solve any of the hospital’s problems. We hope it does. And we hope this signals the beginning of a new era of openness, not just at SRHS, but among all the agencies and boards that are duty-bound to serve the people.

But for now, join us in celebrating and thanking the SRHS Board of Trustees.

The editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions of columnists and cartoonists are their own.

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