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March 29, 2012 7:57 am

EDITORIAL: Hospital board still dealing with Cardwell fallout

Written by Don Amend

Paul Cardwell was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury in Cheyenne for charges relating to his alleged embezzlement of nearly $850,000 from Powell Valley Healthcare. That’s welcome news, but it’s only one step toward dealing with the problems he created as chief executive officer for Powell Valley Healthcare.

A new chief executive officer, Bill Patten, is on board now, but fallout from Caldwell’s behavior continues to be a problem for two boards that govern the hospital.

This week, the Powell Valley Healthcare and Powell Hospital District boards learned they need to start over with a process Cardwell told them had been completed last summer.

When Cardwell came on board a year ago, the Powell Hospital District board had received proposals from four companies for updating the hospital’s building plan. The board accepted one of the proposals. Later, however, Cardwell told board members that the chosen company never responded to his requests for a contract. He asked that the job be awarded to a second company, and the board complied.

In July, Cardwell told both boards the facilities review had been completed, and the company’s recommendations matched the needs identified in a master facilities plan completed under the leadership of former CEO Rod Barton, who left the position in 2010.

Now it appears that Cardwell made up the entire report. No contract ever was issued to either of the firms, and no work ever was done.

This week, the Powell Valley Healthcare board voted to recommend starting the whole procedure over by seeking new proposals, and the Powell Hospital District board agreed, as did both of the firms involved.

No money has been spent on the planning project yet, but the need to start over from the top means more than a year has been wasted in the hospital’s efforts to address its facilities needs, which include the renovation of the operating room, the emergency room and the obstetrics facilities. That delay may well end up costing Powell Valley Healthcare more money than would have been necessary in the end, and at the very least will extend the time that hospital employees will have to work in less than adequate facilities.

The story of Cardwell’s association with Powell Valley Hospital has been puzzling almost from the beginning. It is difficult to understand how a man who had such outstanding references could act as he did.

At best, Cardwell’s leadership at Powell Valley Healthcare resulted only in the hospital treading water for the past year. Instead of providing the insightful, forward-moving leadership he promised, he apparently stalled progress believed to be under way while pulling the financial rug out from under the institution.

We hope this recent discovery is the last time either board is confronted with a problem created by Cardwell’s behavior and performance, but there still could be more surprises down the road.

Still, the hospital has an excellent staff, and the hospital and healthcare boards are made up of conscientious and hard-working people who deserve the support of Powell area residents as they continue to move Powell Valley Healthcare forward and provide us with quality health care here at home.

1 Comment

  • Comment Link April 01, 2012 8:11 pm posted by Don Reel

    Cardwell may have been doing similar activities prior to coming to Powell!!!

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