The current Graham Regional Medical Center hospital board held its final meeting Thursday afternoon. At the next meeting, all of the board members sitting at the u-shaped table of GRMC's Education Conference Room will be elected by residents living within the newly established GRMC taxing district rather than appointed by city council.

To start, board chairman Neal Blanton thanked each member of the hospital staff for all of their hard work, and had a special message for the board during its final meeting.

“The last year has been a trying time, and a difficult time, for everyone on the board, and I want to publicly thank all of you for your service on the board,” Blanton said. “It has been a pleasure working with all of you.”

Candidates running for a spot on the seven member board were in attendance, including local business owner Wayne Widner and S. James Buckmaster, who asked several questions to the board during the public comment portion of the meeting.

Buckmaster wanted to know more about what he called financial inconsistencies regarding the hospital budget from 2012 to 2013, and whether the board was properly analyzing other budgetary issues.

“For example, in the operating expense for the year 2012, we had something like a little over $2 million, and in the year 2013, we lost something like $635,000 in other operating income,” Buckmaster said. “When we lose that kind of money, do we know what we lost it to? Was it a contract? And I don't want details. I'm just showing you there are things that certainly we as a board should have questioned when we lose that kind of money.”

Several board members replied to Buckmaster's comments.

“We are looking at it and questioning it on a monthly basis,” said board member Deana Tillotson. “One of the things we are looking at in our board packet is the actual (amounts) for that month against the budget amounts for that month.”

Tillotson added that at the last board meeting in March, she asked several questions to Chris Dover, GRMC interim CFO, regarding gaps between budgeted dollar amounts and actual dollar amounts.

Read the entire story in this weekend's Graham Leader.