by Tim Rowan, Editor/Publisher
According to sources involved in the events of October 22-27, the expulsion from the Board of Directors of the National Association for Home Care and Hospice involved two board members, not only the one we reported in our special October 30 issue. The following update has been verified and the facts cross-checked with several sources close to the persons involved, all of whom requested anonymity, which we agreed to respect.
As we reported on October 30, Joanne Cunningham, President of the Home Care Association of New York State and outgoing ex officio representative of the Forum of State Association Directors to the NAHC board, received a letter from NAHC attorney Hugh K. Webster, asserting that Ms. Cunningham had disqualified herself from board membership, effective immediately.
"Immediately," we have since learned, was four days prior to the next NAHC board meeting, which was to have been Ms. Cunningham's final meeting as her two year term as FSA Chairperson was concluding. At the FSA meeting scheduled for the next day, Ms. Cunningham turned over the leadership of the FSA to incoming Chairperson Jane Kelly, Executive Director of the Kansas Home Care Association. Reportedly, the attorney's communication did not offer any specifics of the rationale for this essentially moot dismissal.
The rest of the story
Now we have learned that NAHC board member Laurie Neander, CEO of At Home Care in Oneonta, New York, received a similar letter on the same date, expelling her from the board for similar and, the facts indicate, equally inaccurate reasons. As we reported on October 30, however, NAHCís own by-laws require that a board member be expelled during a board meeting, with the accused member present. This was pointed out to the NAHC board in a letter from the Forum of State Association Directors with regard to their elected delegate but it applies equally to Ms. Neander. To date, there has been no official response from NAHC to the Forum's letter.
Reports to us from former NAHC board members verify that the Forumís assessment was accurate, that the Cunningham expulsion was carried out in violation of NAHC's by-laws. Now it has also come to light that the offenses for which Ms. Cunningham and Ms. Neander were expelled are activities permitted by NAHC by-laws.
Ms. Neander was told that her removal from board membership was due to the fact that her organization had accepted membership in the Visiting Nurse Associations of America, which Mr. Webster's letter described as "a competing organization." Further, Webster alleged that both board members had made statements indicating their intent to change their organization's allegiance to the VNAA and away from NAHC. He added that NAHC board membership implies a "Duty of Loyalty" to the association and does not allow for alliances with other associations.
(The letter did, however, appear to make a distinction between "allegiance" and "membership" when it reassured them that only each Executive's board position was being ended, not At Home Care's or HCA-NYS's dues-paying membership in NAHC. Nor did the letter make mention that other NAHC board members lead organizations that hold memberships in other national home care associations.)
It appears that the attorney's disloyalty accusation was incorrect for two reasons. Both At Home Care and HCA-NYS had in fact added VNAA membership but neither had made any statements about, or taken any actions toward, dissolving NAHC membership. There was no "transfer" of allegiance. Secondly, according to NAHC by-laws, board members' home care and hospice organizations are permitted to belong to other associations. The only restriction is against NAHC board members serving on the boards of other associations. Neither Ms. Neander nor Ms. Cunningham has any affiliation with the VNAA board of directors.Defending the wronged
We have also learned that other NAHC board members did speak up to defend the supposedly self-disqualified members. During the meeting, it was pointed out to Mr. Webster that VNAA membership is permitted by NAHC by-laws. He responded by shifting the expulsion reason to a different offense, one not mentioned in his letter, that neither Ms. Neander nor Ms. Cunningham had signed and submitted a document that appears to be some sort of conflict of interest statement to NAHC, which is apparently required of all board members.
The board member challenging Mr. Webster presented evidence that this new accusation was also incorrect, that both members had, in fact, signed and returned their oaths months earlier. According to two sources present at the meeting, Webster weakly responded, "Well, I've never seen them."
As we reported previously, at its October 28 meeting, the Forum of State Association Directors asked NAHC board president Denise Schrader and Mr. Webster to leave the room in order that they might enter into executive session. In that part of the meeting, they held a vote of no confidence in the NAHC leadership and current NAHC Board of Directors for actions related to the removal of the FSA Chairperson from the NAHC Board of Directors. These votes received an overwhelming majority, with only two dissensions.
Unexplained and unexplainable
It is impossible to imagine, sources assure us, that attorney Hugh K. Webster was acting on his own. None of our sources, however, were willing to speculate about who might have directed him to write the letters of expulsion. What several of them did tell us is that it became apparent during the October 26 board meeting that most board members were learning of the expulsions there for the first time. Some sources also offer the opinion that the only reason to have someone dismissed four days before the end of her term is to send a message of some kind. But a message from whom and to whom, and what the message means to say, no one is guessing, at least not out loud.
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©2015 by Rowan Consulting Associates, Inc., Colorado Springs, CO. All rights reserved. This article originally appeared in Tim Rowan's Home Care Technology Report. homecaretechreport.com One copy may be printed for personal use; further reproduction by permission only. firstname.lastname@example.org