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AUDIO: Heated discussions before Branch County Commissioners go to closed session on possible hospital sale

COLDWATER, MI (WTVB) - Branch County Commissioners yesterday had their first significant discussion on pending negotiations for the proposed sale of the Community Health Center of Branch County to a Tennessee-based for profit health system. The talks were held behind closed doors and that was a bone of contention for Commissioner Dale Swift.

Earlier this month, Swift asked that any possible change in ownership of the hospital stay on the agenda for all their meetings, like yesterday’s work session, until an outcome is determined. Swift took exception that the proposed sale of CHC, which was recommended by the hospital board of trustees at the end of June, wasn’t on Thursday’s agenda. However, Board Chairman Don Vrablic said it wasn’t the time or the place, nor the appropriate venue, calling the discussions very delicate. Vrablic said they’ve all already had the opportunity to ask the same questions he believed Swift might be looking at and added that the Board doesn’t deal with union negotiations in open session and they shouldn’t in this case as well.

A 15-minute discussion ensued on the pros and cons of the matter and then Vrablic decided that was enough and asked that they suspend the regular meeting and enter into an executive session to discuss the attorney-client privilege protected negotiations on the hospital. The County Board of Commissioners will make the final call on whether the Community Health Center will be sold to CHS of suburban Nashville. Planning on the hospital’s Strategic Partnership which led up to the CHC Trustees recommended sale of the hospital began last November.