BCMH Board Chair submits resignation

Stating that she just “felt uncomfortable” signing off on items on behalf of the Bamberg County Hospital Board of Trustees that she did not agree with, BCMH Board Chair Lou- Ann Carter submitted her letter of resignation on May 18, to Bamberg County Council District 4 Council member St. Clair Guess, who appointed her to the board.

In a telephone interview on Friday, Carter noted “everything is moving very fast” alluding to the proposed restructuring of the Bamberg County Memorial Hospital as well the Allendale and Barnwell County Hospitals under Chapter 9 of the United States Bankruptcy Code and the establishment of a Tri-County Regional Health System.

“Everything is moving very fast, there were some things that I was uncomfortable with, it will be costly, I felt I needed to remove myself,” she said. Carter said that even though she has submitted her resignation from the board, she remains “very supportive” of the regional health care initiative. Carter’s letter to Councilman Clair Guess stated:

It is with mixed emotions but thoughtful and thorough consideration that I submit to you my resignation from the Bamberg County Hospital Board, effective immediately. Let this also reflect that I continue to support the proposed tri-county healthcare facility and the three county-based ambulatory care centers.

Relative to the current BCH management structure I, as Board Chair, was given the authority to sign binding contractual legal and management agreements on behalf of the Board, by recommendation of County Council. I feel that it has been expected that I exercise this duty without adequate time for review and appropriate inclusion. The planned financial restructuring and reorganization, filing Chapter 9, will require expeditious response and attention. Therefore, it is in the best interest for me to resign.

The employees of Bamberg County Hospital, the Medical Staff and the BCH Board are dedicated to the mission of assuring that quality healthcare is accessible and available in Bamberg County. These are the very assets that have allowed us to persevere and the necessary foundation to succeed in the future.

I am very proud to have served in this capacity for the past five years and will continue to support the community and a tri-county healthcare facility. Thank you for this opportunity. Bamberg County Councilman St. Clair Guess praised Carter as a friend and for the job she did on the BCMH Board as Chair through a difficult time.

“I received Ms. Carter's resignation letter at the same time you did and was saddened by the news,” Guess said in an email on Wednesday, May 18. Lou Ann and I have been friends for a lifetime and I respect her abilities and her position. She has dedicated a significant amount of her time and energy to a problem that came before she was asked to serve. She has served the county and its citizens well.

The BCMH board operates the hospital as a separate entity from the county government. It has its own source of funds, its own ability to borrow, acquire and operate without the county's approval. It has been a challenge for Ms. Carter, but she has performed admirably as the leader of the hospital and, as a friend to each of us. The county has not required the BCMH board to take any action and has offered support where possible with the use of meetings, legal council, and financial support to the extent that the citizens could afford.

The agreement between HMP and the BCMH board will provide for a much brighter future and continued health care delivery within our community. We are all grateful that Ms. Carter chose the path forward for us all,” Councilman Guess said.