(Host) The discussion by public officials of allegations of mismanagement at the state’s largest hospital has become an issue in the race for lieutenant governor. Democratic candidate Peter Shumlin is urging all political candidates to refrain from any additional criticism of the Fletcher Allen Hospital because these comments are undermining public confidence in the hospital. Progressive Anthony Pollina says Shumlin’s
plan is a very bad idea.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.
(Kinzel) Speaking at a press conference in the Senate Chamber at the Statehouse, Shumlin proposed what he called “a time out” for all public officials concerning “finger pointing and political posturing” concerning allegations of mismanagement at Fletcher Allen until several different investigations have issued their reports.
There are a number of groups investigating charges that the management of the hospital deliberately misled state regulatory officials concerning the financing of their new $50 million parking garage. The hospital’s board, the attorney general’s office and the U.S. attorney’s office are all conducting investigations in the case.
Shumlin says continued criticism by public officials is undermining the public’s trust in the hospital and he thinks all political candidates should be silent on this issue until the investigators have released their findings:
(Shumlin) “But I do think that we’re perilously close to risking the health of one of our most important health care providers in the scramble to get to the bottom of what was very bad management, no question about it. My point is, I think the pieces are in place at this point to get to the bottom of it. We will, and while that happens we should take time out and let the process work.”
(Kinzel) Progressive lieutenant governor candidate Anthony Pollina reacted strongly to Shumlin’s proposal. Pollina says there should be more, not less, public discussion about the Fletcher Allen situation:
(Pollina) “When workers or citizens or policy makers find wrongdoing at a large state institution, I think we have the obligation to talk about it. Clearly Fletcher Allen would rather sweep it under the rug and for some reason Peter Shumlin has decided that he’s going to do their dirty work for them. I think Shumlin has it all wrong. He is asking people to shut up. I actually think people should speak up.”
(Kinzel) The CEO of Fletcher Allen, William Boettcher, is currently on paid leave from the hospital pending the results of the investigations.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.