The board briefly looked over financial statements before approving the new budget and moving on to other matters during its regular meeting Monday. The budget was not discussed and there was no mention made about revenue or expenses.
The hospital’s fiscal year ended June 30.
A Star reporter’s request after the meeting for a copy of the new budget from board chairman Anthony Humphries was denied.
“That’s not something we have to file publicly,” Humphries said.
He said due to the competitive nature of the medical industry, there are certain segments of RMC’s budget that the board preferred remained private.
No other reason was given why the board could not release the budget, however, Humphries added that he would work to get The Star some budget information within a week.
RMC is a public hospital and its board is composed entirely of members appointed by government bodies, including several city councils and the Calhoun County Commission. The hospital’s website states that RMC is a non-profit, community-owned hospital.
RMC is a public hospital and local governments appoint all its board members. State law indicates such public institutions adhere to Alabama’s public records laws.
According to Section 41-13-1 of the Alabama Code, “ … public records shall include all written, typed or printed books, papers, letters, documents and maps made or received in pursuance of law by the public officers of the state, counties, municipalities and other subdivisions of government in the transactions of public business and shall also include any record authorized to be made by any law of this state belonging or pertaining to any court of record or any other public record authorized by law or any paper, pleading, exhibit or other writing filed with, in or by any such court, office or officer.”
The hospital denied The Star access to information earlier this year in regards to an incident involving the release of patient information.
Last month, the board reprimanded a doctor who faxed a list of patients’ names to a local law firm in February. The patients were students involved in school bus wreck.
The name of the doctor was not released.
Upon request, The Star received a copy of the fax in March, but with all information on it redacted, including the letterhead. Hospital officials have repeatedly stated the incident did not violate federal law governing patient privacy, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, known as HIPAA. However, to date, the hospital has not released information on how the fax did not violate HIPAA law.
While RMC’s current finances are unknown, it is no secret the hospital has been struggling financially for some time due mainly to the sluggish economy.
In January, the hospital laid off 14 upper management employees and enacted wage freezes for all other personnel.
RMC has approximately 1,400 employees, making it the second-largest employer in Calhoun County.
Also during the meeting, the board received a visit from Anniston Councilman Ben Little to discuss the hospital’s hiring practices.
Little had recently requested details on RMC’s hiring practices and on the hospital’s ratio of white employees to black employees.
“I’m not trying to say there is something racist going on … these were just some concerns from my constituency,” Little said. “Looking at the breakdown of employees, it was a concern to me of hiring of blacks in certain areas … there is a great disparity of whites to blacks.”
Details on the ratio of white to black employees were unavailable by deadline of this article.
“I ask for you to just look at the numbers periodically,” Little told the board. “I don’t want to make you mad, but the perception out there is real.”
Humphries said no board members were angry with Little. He added that he was convinced the hospital was doing the right thing in regards to hiring practices and that he and the board welcomed questions and concerns from the public.
Contact staff writer Patrick McCreless at 256-235-3561.