LMH Health trustees devoted to community service

photo by: Ashley Hocking/Journal-World File Photo

The emergency entrance to Lawrence Memorial Hospital is shown in this Journal-World file photo from Jan. 26, 2018.

From caring for patients to insuring the facilities are well maintained to dealing in matters of high finance, it takes a lot of people to run a hospital. But it may surprise many to know that LMH Health’s governing board is made up of community volunteers.

Since its inception in 1921, the hospital has relied on the guidance of its Board of Trustees to set policies and make decisions that shape the future of health care in Lawrence and other communities LMH Health serves. The board ultimately has the fiduciary responsibility for the hospital, which means trustees hold a legal obligation to act in the best interest of the hospital and are entrusted with the ownership and care of the hospital’s assets.

Appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the Lawrence City Commission, the nine trustees serve four-year terms and can be reappointed once.

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Trustees meet monthly to consider reports and information and to strategize about such issues as expansion of services and quality of care. In addition to monthly meetings, each board member serves on various committees that also meet regularly to work on behalf of key functions of the hospital.

“These generous and highly qualified professionals choose to devote time and talent to help LMH Health navigate important issues and decisions in the best interest of the community,” said LMH President and CEO Russ Johnson. “This is a major commitment often involving hundreds of hours.”

Cindy Yulich, a Lawrence banker, has served on the board for six years, including the last three years as chairperson. She said that because LMH Health is self-funded from its operations and receives no tax support from the city of Lawrence or Douglas County, it’s both meaningful and important to serve as a member of the board.

“As trustees, we take our responsibilities to make the best decisions for LMH Health, and the people who those decisions impact, to heart,” she said. “Hundreds of thousands of people — patients, employees, doctors, volunteers, donors, visitors, families, friends and neighbors — literally trust us to do the right thing with health care here. That’s a big responsibility.”

Health care as an industry is under significant pressures. Recent years have brought dramatic changes in growth and expansion at LMH Health, making the work of the Board of Trustees more challenging than ever.

Many trustees do not have a background in health care or a hospital-related field. To prepare for what to many is a whole new industry, new trustees attend a formal orientation, and all trustees participate in ongoing education to stay current with changes facing the health care industry. Each brings a unique skill set that enhances the board as a whole. Those skills should include a history of achievement, ability to work in a team-oriented environment, and experience in philanthropy and governance.

“I had little idea of how big a job it is to be a trustee for LMH,” said Bob Moody, who was appointed to serve as a trustee last year. “As mayor, I appointed community members to the role, and now, more than ever, I appreciate the commitment that is needed.”

The trustees contribute business expertise, community knowledge and personal attributes such as compassion, independence, intelligence, integrity and objectivity. Each volunteers an average of 20 or more hours per month in committee meetings, education and community meetings and regular monthly board meetings where decisions are made.

Gina Pacumbaba-Watson, now in her final year as a trustee, feels it is an honor. Her expertise as an owner of a Lawrence engineering and consulting firm is important, as she leads the facilities committee and has served on the human resources and credentials committees.

“Our role is to bring opinions and insight from the community to allow the staff to make informed, precise decisions,” she said.

Johnson said, “I am so honored to work with board members who are committed to our strategic goals and our purpose: ‘a partner for lifelong health’. Their dedication, insights and support have really contributed to LMH being one of the best hospitals in the country.”

In addition to Yulich, Moody and Pacumbaba-Watson, current members of the LMH Board of Trustees are Rob Chestnut, Joanne Hurst, Mike Amyx, and Dr. Marc Scarbrough, chief of staff, an ex officio member. The board is excited to welcome three new trustees who were appointed by Mayor Stuart Boley and confirmed by the Lawrence City Commission earlier this week. They are Larry McElwain, Beth Llewellyn and Jim Brooke.

Dr. Lee Reussner, Mike Wildgen and Jane Blocher completed their terms as trustees last month.

“Their leadership has advanced quality, patient safety, expansion of primary care, financial strength, and program expansion,” Johnson said. “I see the trustees as providing a broader view and ‘conscience’ for our organization. With their commitment to our purpose and the community, Lee, Mike and Jane exemplify this consciousness and continued to urge us to improve our services, increase access and be a more equitable organization. Great thanks to all of them for their years of service to LMH.”

Blocher, who is executive director of the American Red Cross, said the eight years she spent on the board were “life changing” for her.

“I was having a pretty nice little life when I joined the board,” she said. “And then everything changed. This experience was truly transformative. I leave so much smarter and stronger, more compassionate and empathetic, a better listener, and more empowered than when I arrived. And never more proud of my community hospital.”

The LMH Health Board of Trustees meets the third Wednesday of each month at the hospital, 330 Arkansas St. Beginning Oct. 17, the meeting time will change to 5:30 p.m. Meetings are open to the public.

— Janice Early is vice president of marketing and communications at LMH Health, which is a major sponsor of the Lawrence Journal-World’s Health section. She can be reached at janice.early@lmh.org.


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