Ashland hospital board talks merger

The Ashland City Council will hear a presentation tonight from the Ashland Community Hospital board of directors about a proposed merger between the hospital and Medford-based Asante.

The meeting starts at 7 tonight in the Ashland Civic Center council chambers, at 1175 E. Main St. Council members are expected to ask questions about the merger but will take public comments at a future date.

A proposed merger between the hospital and San Francisco-based Dignity Health fell through after Dignity Health pulled out of negotiations in October.

Local residents had raised concerns about Dignity Health's restrictions regarding abortion and Oregon's Death With Dignity law. Dignity Health previously was affiliated with the Catholic Church.

Abortion and physician-assisted suicide are not at issue with Asante, according to Ashland Community Hospital board chairman Doug Gentry.

Any merger between the hospital and Asante would require the approval of council.

In past decades, the hospital was a department of the city, but it was spun off as an independent entity. The city retains ownership of the hospital property, buildings, improvements and fixed equipment.

In other business on Tuesday, the council will hold a public hearing about a proposed 5.3 percent electric rate increase that would cost the average residential user $3.45 more per month. A smaller 2.6 percent increase would cost $1.71 more each month.

The council also is scheduled to discuss the process for appointing a replacement for Councilman David Chapman, who resigned in October.

The council could hold a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 3, to interview the seven applicants for the position and then vote to pick a replacement.

The applicants, who have extensive government and community experience, are Pam Marsh, Tom Giordano, Lynn Thompson, Keith Haxton, Colin Swales, Eric Heesacker and Kevin Bernadt. The new council member will serve through December 2014.

For a complete list of agenda items and details on each item, see

Vickie Aldous is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. She can be reached at 541-479-8199 or

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