A member of the former board of Myrtle Werth Medical Center in Menomonie, Wis., has withdrawn a legal challenge to its affiliation with Mayo Health System.
Subsequently, 55-bed Myrtle Werth became the 10th hospital in the Mayo regional system. The affiliation, in effect, amounts to a merger.
John Joyce, a hospital board member, filed a lawsuit against Myrtle Werth in February in Dunn County Circuit Court questioning corporate membership approval of the deal (Feb. 19, p. 16). Despite Mayo denials, Joyce said he fears Myrtle Werth will stop taking Medicare assignments and will steer specialty cases to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
Under corporate membership arrangements, community members pay a fee for the right to vote on ownership changes. A separate board governs hospital operations.
In February, about 120 Myrtle Werth corporate members attended a meeting to vote on the Mayo deal or voted in advance by proxy. The Myrtle Werth board had approved the agreement in 1995, although Joyce dissented.
In his lawsuit, Joyce argued that there was no evidence that two-thirds of the corporate membership supported the Mayo deal because the vote was taken by voice.
In response, Mayo and Myrtle Werth filed dozens of affidavits from corporate members declaring they had voted in favor of the agreement. Joyce moved to dismiss his suit Feb. 28.
"I still object to (the agreement) on the same basis I did before," he said. "But they have provided documentation that they met statutory requirements, so I don't think there's anything further we can do about it."
The hospital is now named Myrtle Werth Hospital-Mayo Health System. Myrtle Werth administrator Tom Miller is expected to stay in his position, a Mayo spokesman said. Board members for the new organization will be confirmed shortly.