Hospital board needs doctor to replace Fitz-Gerald

When the Demopolis City Council reconvenes Thursday, it will appoint two members to the board at Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital. Nominated for the spots are Webb Tutt, whose current term is expiring, RockTenn head man Jim Grantham and local physicians Dr. Ronnie Chu and Dr. Judy Travis.

On the surface, it seems a routine decision for the council, and in many ways it is. However, the hospital is not far removed from a financial crisis that nearly caused the closure of the labor and delivery unit. Moreover, it is not inconceivable that the labor and delivery unit question could arise again in the near future.

That means that anyone sitting on the board at the hospital has plenty of difficult decisions ahead. As such, these two appointments do not lack for importance.

While all four nominees certainly bring strong resumes and could be considered worthy of nomination, the recent departure of Dr. Maurice Fitz-Gerald from the board makes it apparent that one of the two council appointees should be of a medical background.

All those currently sitting on the board are valuable citizens who do a great job for the hospital and the community at large. But the board needs the medical background and expertise that was offered by Dr. Fitz-Gerald and, similarly, would be offered by another physician were the appointment to come.

There are plenty of bridges still to be crossed for the hospital board, circumstances that are certainly tenuous in the current economic climate. But, as presently constituted, the board does not lack in keen financial minds capable of navigating such terrain. What it needs – in light of Dr. Fitz-Gerald’s term having expired – is a doctor to maintain the balance the hospital’s governing body has long possessed.