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North Kansas City can add to hospital board

Updated: 2013-03-20T04:20:55Z

By STEVE EVERLY

The Kansas City Star

A Clay County Circuit Court handed North Kansas City a partial victory Tuesday by saying it could appoint new members to the city’s hospital board.

But the judge also issued an injunction saying the hospital can’t be sold until a pending lawsuit decides whether the city has the authority to do so.

The rulings came after North Kansas City Hospital filed the lawsuit seeking to keep the city from appointing new board members.

The lawsuit claimed the city was trying to pack the board so the institution could be sold.

But the judge said the city has the authority to appoint more board members regardless of its intentions.

“We appreciate the court’s swift decision in this matter and its confirmation of North Kansas City’s authority to appoint members to the North Kansas City Hospital Board of Trustees, as provided by state law, city ordinance and hospital bylaws,” the city said in a statement.

“Our hope is to have a more meaningful discussion and a rational, thoughtful, and objective evaluation of the hospital.”

In the ruling, Judge Shane Alexander said that even if a revamped hospital board voted to drop the lawsuit questioning the city’s authority to sell the hospital there would be no irreparable harm.

Because there are other parties backing the hospital involved in the suit, he said, it would continue.

The judge also issued an injunction on any sale until the lawsuit concludes.

The city says no sale is imminent.

Peggy Schmitt, the hospital’s president and CEO, said: “We are pleased that Judge Alexander has stopped the city from taking any direct action to sell the hospital. We are optimistic that any new board members appointed by the city will support the continuation of North Kansas City Hospital as a community hospital.”

The North Kansas City Council plans to meet today to vote on several new hospital board members.

The city owns North Kansas City Hospital, but hospital officials have previously said its authority is limited to appointing board members and not to running operations or deciding whether to sell it. Last year the City Council hired an investment bank to review options for the hospital, including a sale.

To reach Steve Everly, call 816-234-4455 or send email to severly@kcstar.com.

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