SVDH board to meet with counsel Tuesday regarding threatened litigation
Stewart denied deferred decision at Jan. 11 meeting
Among the items on the consent agenda [Tuesday] at Sierra View Local Health Care District Board of Directors regular meeting at Sierra View District Hospital will be the ‘Approval of Minutes’ from several recent meetings, including the regular Dec. 18 meeting and those from special meetings held on Jan. 9 and Jan. 11 — meetings that held only one item on the agenda — to evaluate then SVDH CEO Joe Stewart.
° The minutes for Jan. 9 indicate the meeting was called to order at 4 p.m., with the Board and Attorney Robert Krase moving into Closed Session at 4:05 p.m. Stewart was asked to join the meeting at 6:10 p.m. and excused at 8:05 p.m. There was no action taken and the meeting was moved to Open Session at 8:10 p.m. and adjourned at 8:14 p.m.
° The minutes for Jan. 11 indicate the meeting was called to order at 6:05 p.m. All five directors — Chairman Kent Sorrells, Richard Hatfield, Dr. Ashok Behl, Dr. Jasvir Sidhu, and Dr. Gaurang Pandya — were present. The meeting went to Closed Session at 6:06 p.m. for discussion regarding Stewart’s performance. It reconvened to Open Session at 7:35 p.m.
At that time, it was moved by Sidhu and seconded by Behl to find Stewart with satisfactory performance over the past 12 months and to extend the term of his contract for one year as provided in his employment contract. The Board was polled, with Sidhu and Behl voting yes, and Sorrells, Hatfield and Pandya voting no. The motion failed.
Behl moved, and Sidhu seconded, to defer on the decision of Stewart’s performance to the end of March — which is at the end of the 90-day review period provided in the employment contract. The Board was polled and the motion failed again, with Sorrells, Hatfield and Pandya voting not to wait on the decision.
Hatfield then moved, and received a second from Pandya to terminate the employment contract of Stewart immediately, on a not-for-cause basis and to buy out his contract.
Sidhu and Behl voted no, but the motion carried 3-2 with Sorrells, Hatfield and Pandya voting to fire Stewart.
A short discussion ensued regarding the process of implementing the decision, notifying Stewart and the Hospital, proper agenda notice and 24-hour notice to the employee. No action was taken and the meeting was adjourned at 8:10 p.m.
The approval of the minutes from the special meeting held Jan. 15 — the one in which Stewart was fired during Open Session in a 3-2 vote by Sorrells, Hatfield and Pandya — is not on the agenda.
Tuesday's meeting begins with an education class for the Board at 7 a.m. at the Sierra View District Hospital Board Room. It will move to closed session and reopen again to Open Session at approximately 8:30 a.m.
See Tuesday's edition of The Porterville Recorder for the full story.
Contact Esther Avila at 784-5000, Ext. 1045. Follow her on Twitter @Avila_recorder.