Dear Editor,

After learning about the latest and arguably one of the more blatant examples of "small town politics," I concede that I will never understand the mechanics behind this most powerful and almost always unjust force that exists in the community that I've called home for almost 50 yrs.

Instance after instance has failed to enlighten me, as to a common denominator among them, which causes this force to rear its ugly and biased head.

My first introduction to the term "small town politics" was both personal and poignant, being a high school senior at the time. That was the terminology my parents used to explain my father being "let go" from his position as administrator of Calhoun General Hospital.

I can still hear my dad's words: "It's just small town politics, kiddo!"

I was old enough to have a basic understanding of what that meant, but it took years of witnessing a myriad of other such injustices, to fully understand the ugly truth of my father's words, spoken so many years ago.

The instance I'm referencing is the appointment of the new CEO for Minnie Hamilton Health System. I genuinely have no personal qualms with Dr. Lindauer, surely a person of good character and certainly a well educated man, as his credentials indicate.

I do however, call into question the necessity of a having CEO with such credentials and the board's judgment in not giving the position of CEO to the current Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of the Minnie Hamilton Heath System, Stephen Whited.

What defense is there for not awarding the man who holds the two most vital positions in the facility and was without question, the logical successor to the top position?

Steve Whited has a 15 year background in and working knowledge of the day to day management of MHHS. Fifteen years ago, he chose to stay in our county, make a life here and raise his children in our community, at a time when most young people were leaving Calhoun County.

Who more so than Steve, would know about every aspect of the internal workings of the facility and who else would have the vested interest in MHHS's continued success, than the one who has dedicated years of service insuring its quality of care, success and growth?

How could the board members not feel that Steve Whited has a wealth of healthcare knowledge, understanding and experience as a result of his daily work, for all those years?

I can not fathom how the board could not have concluded that he has a much better grasp on the needs of our small community clinic than any of the other candidates.

Steve is currently "an integral component to continuing the legacy of leadership, quality of care and patient focused continuity for MHHS patients and families, to paraphrase Mrs. Simers' press release statement. I am speechless that the members of the board felt otherwise.

Why didn't Steve's extensive background in managing MHHS make him the better candidate to be its CEO? Does one's resume exponentially make them the best candidate?

How can the dynamics of managing our small rural healthcare facility in any way be similar to those of the Mayo Clinic or any of its satellite facilities? Why is it that the solid support from the entire staff, for Steve's appointment as CEO not deemed a compelling factor, worthy of careful consideration by the board members?

As a citizen of this county and a patron of the facility, I am disillusioned by their decision, I question their motives and I am deeply disappointed in the board collectively and each member individually.

Those feelings cause me to be curious, as to how one goes about getting appointed to MHHS's governing board? I feel that given the stance I've taken on this matter, maybe instead of just writing about this injustice, I should get involved, become more civic minded; make my voice heard and make my vote count.

No doubt though, any attempt I might make to become a member of the Minnie Hamilton Health System's Board of Directors would surely be met with yet another example of "small town politics."

I'll close with this final statement, "I wonder how Miss Minnie Hamilton, herself a dedicated healthcare provider, would feel about the disservice shown to one of our own, who has dedicated his career to making the facility that bears her name, a better place?

I wonder!

Bette Ritchie
638 Leading Creek Road
Big Springs, WV 26137-7044