Big Bear Lake, CA — The Board of Directors for the Bear Valley Community Healthcare District convened for a special Monday-night business meeting last night and, during closed session, voted to terminate the district’s CEO Vi Colunga, who has been on a paid administrative leave since December, during which time CFO Rudy Shutta has been overseeing district operations as acting CEO. In a conversation with Shutta, he tells KBHR, “They voted in closed session, and reported out from closed session that they voted to terminate Vi Colunga. A reason for her termination was not cited, but her termination is effective March 22. She will be paid through March 31, as well as paid for any accrued vacation, but no severance.” The vote to terminate Colunga was unanimous, 4-0, with President Dr. Chris Fagan, Brad Summers, Kathy Bauch, and just-appointed Director Dr. Michael Hartstein voting in favor; the Healthcare District’s Secretary Ron Peavy was unable to attend the March 22 meeting, as he was committed to a budget meeting at Rim of the World Unified School District, where he is superintendent. In a conversation with President Fagan, he said of the decision to terminate Colunga, “We have spent time on the investigation, and all the Board members that were there concluded that this was the best course of action. She was terminated for cause without severance, and we are going to go on.”
Those causes for termination of the district’s CEO have not yet been cited publicly, and there has been no mention of a settlement between Colunga and the district. For his part, Peavy says of the matter, “That’s been on the agenda the last several meetings, so I wasn’t 100% sure if a vote would be taken last night. I would have to assume the vote was based on specific criteria, but I have not seen it at this time.” (It should be noted that when the Board voted to place Colunga on a paid administrative leave on December 15, both Peavy and then-Director Bill Speyers were opposed to the decision, making for a 3-2 vote.)
Going forward, Shutta notes, “I am still acting CEO, though it was announced last night that the Board is forming a search committee for a permanent CEO.” The Board will also look into the possibility of hiring a Chief Operating Officer, specifics of which will be presented by Shutta at the healthcare district’s next meeting. In the interim, he says, “The hospital continues to operate effectively, and we will continue until we have a new CEO on board, and then that individual will take over the leadership role of the hospital. The hospital is very important to us and the community.”
In other news from last night’s meeting of the Bear Valley Community Healthcare District, Dr. Hartstein, who was appointed to the board on February 23, was unanimously elected treasurer of the Board (to fill the post vacated by Bill Speyers on December 31), and Hartstein will also serve on the finance committee, for which Peavy is chairman.