NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. - North Kansas City officials moved quickly to take advantage of a Tuesday ruling by a Clay County judge, calling a special session of the city council Wednesday night to appoint new members to the North Kansas City Hospital Board.
The meeting lasted four minutes and eight new members were chosen. More than 30 citizens attended the meeting, most in opposition of the appointments.
Theta Yates, who joined those in opposition, said the new members will be "a direct line back to the city council."
She said the hospital has been well-loved and maintained, and wonders why any changes needed to be made.
The composition of the hospital's board has been the latest front in the ongoing battle between the city and the hospital's top staff over the future direction of the hospital.
A Clay County judge decided on Tuesday that the city was within its powers to appoint as many hospital board members as it saw fit, overriding objections from the hospital that such appointments amounted to an infringement on the hospital's governance and an effort by the city to "pack" the board.
Judge Shane Alexander also ruled in favor of the hospital on a critical issue Tuesday by barring the city from selling the hospital while a lawsuit against the city continues.
The question of whether or not the city wants to sell the hospital at all, and to whom, is at the heart of the acrimony between city and hospital.
Hospital officials believe the city wants to sell the community hospital to a private operator or for-profit company, as evidenced by the city retaining an investment bank to conduct an evaluation of the hospital last year.
North Kansas City city manager Matt Shatto called rumors that the city had potential buyers already lined up for the hospital, which the city has owned since 1958, "absolute baloney."
"We want this hospital to remain where it's at - to remain healthy and strong into the future. There's no question every member of the city council and the mayor have no intent to do anything that would harm that hospital," Shatto said.
30 people came out to watch, most in opposition.