Kevin MacMillan: Allegations of corruption within Tahoe Forest Health System
July 28, 2014
Recently, several news stories, open letters to the community, press releases and statements have all centered on Tahoe Forest Health System.
In-depth investigative reports published by Moonshine Ink are filled with examples of a potential conflict of interest with the hospital's CEO, Bob Schapper, and his wife's medical company.
The stories by David Bunker also point to other possible conflicts; raise questions about the oversight of the health system's board of directors and the competency of its senior staff; and inquire if taxpayer dollars are spent legally.
The bulk of the newspaper's investigation was reported online and in print on July 11, and those items are a follow-up to Mr. Bunker's July 13, 2012, story, "Tahoe Forest Hospital Under the Microscope | Where does the Money Go?"
Since July 11, other items have come out, the largest being a six-page open letter from Mr. Schapper that refers to Moonshine's coverage having "material inaccuracies and misleading statements." I've read it, and Moonshine's quick response.
I've also read an open letter signed by 21 doctors who defend Mr. Schapper's integrity and leadership of the public health system that provides care to thousands of residents through several facilities in Truckee and Incline Village.
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Then there's Kara Fox's online article Wednesday that reports the hospital's board is investigating Mr. Schapper's potential conflict of interest. And the most recent item is a press release posted online early Thursday from the hospital board that reports the district is in "strong financial health."
These sound bytes are no doubt the biggest talk right now in the Truckee/Tahoe region. And, regardless of one's view on how the information is published or what form of language it's taken — or, for that matter, the outflow of comments for and against that have ensued — something of this magnitude that hurls a public agency's transparency onto a dartboard for everyone to see is worth paying close attention to.
Since July 11, we have fielded many phone calls, voicemails and emails from concerned residents about all this information. And while the opinions vary, the end-game is this: "When are you going to report on this?"
The short answer: soon.
We're very aware of what's circling around us, and we are carefully assessing it all. We had a reporter attend Tuesday's hospital board meeting to learn more. We're pulling old stories and old and new documents to put things into the best context.
Among other things, our job as a newspaper is to inform our communities about news of interest happening in our area, and to hold public agencies accountable. And we plan to do that as the weeks progress.
Until then, we encourage you to read the information that's out there. All the links are within this column above.
In this exact moment in time, it's the best thing we can do to inform our readers.
Kevin MacMillan is managing editor of the Sierra Sun and North Lake Tahoe Bonanza. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.