DCH Board Member Says Hospital System Operates in Secrecy, Calls for Reform
A member of the board of directors of the DCH Health System said it is operating in secrecy and shutting him out for refusing to do the same Monday afternoon.
The board is made up of nine members, five of who are appointed by local governments -- two from the city of Tuscaloosa, two by the Tuscaloosa County Commission and one by the Northport City Council.
They govern the DCH System, which operates hospitals in Tuscaloosa, Northport and Fayette.
Dr. David Albright, who was appointed to sit on the board 10 months ago by the city of Northport, said during a Monday meeting that he was asked during his onboarding to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
After looking at the NDA, Albright said his personal attorney and Northport city attorney Ron Davis said the agreement was overly broad in what it defined as confidential and would have kept him from keeping "the city of Northport -- my Appointing Authority -- appropriately informed about activities, problems, and any steps to resolve or improve those problems."
Albright reportedly refused to sign the NDA, and said as a result, he is being kept out of the DCH board's meetings.
"I do not have access to hospital information that other board members can access," Albright said. "Additionally, my onboarding process was stopped so I have never been fully onboarded to the board. To be clear, I have been excluded from meaningful participation on the DCH Board of Directors. And more problematically, the City of Northport has been excluded from representation on the board for almost ten months."
Albright says he is allowed to attend the first 15 minutes of board meetings, then made to leave the room while their discussions and decisions continue.
As the Tuscaloosa Thread previously reported, Webb and Tuscaloosa mayor Walt Maddox said last month that "a veil of secrecy" exists between DCH board members appointed by their governments and the elected officials who placed them on the board.
"I feel very frustrated that I am being prevented from doing my job as a DCH Board Member unless I agree to keep the City of Northport -- the Appointing Authority -- uninformed," Albright said. "Clearly, we have challenges in healthcare in our community. Secrecy and lack of transparency are dangerous and are only making a bad situation worse. We need to work together to improve DCH and serve the needs of all of our citizens across our communities."
DCH Regional Medical Center also recently earned its sixth-straight near-failing hospital safety grade from the Leapfrog Group, which Albright highlighted and said shows problems at the hospital and within the DCH System predate the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some change may soon be on the horizon -- the DCH System recently announced that its longtime CEO Bryan Kindred is stepping down from that role to retire and that a new CEO, Katrina Keefer, will assume his responsibilities later this year.
Stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread for exclusive updates on the DCH Health System and the challenges they face.