Kathy Hewitt

Former Muskogee Mayor Kathy Hewitt resigned Friday from the Muskogee Regional Medical Center Board of Trustees.

Hewitt, appointed to the board by Mayor Wren Stratton in May, cited a disagreement with some board members about whether she has a potential conflict of interest.

The board is mulling options that will determine the future of the hospital, including the possible sale of the facility. Hewitt’s son, Perry, works for Ponca City Regional Medical Center, which recently was purchased by Community Health Systems. CHS is one of five companies that have approached MRMC officials with offers of a management change.

In a media release, Hewitt said she did not agree with those who believed there was a conflict of interest.

“In accordance with the Conflict of Interest Policy of the hospital and on advice from my attorney, I believe I would not have a conflict until the Board of Trustees votes to enter into any ‘transaction or arrangement,’” she said. “So far, this event has not occurred.”

Chris Condley, chairman of the board, said he believes Hewitt places the community first, and the board will stay on track.

“I respect her decision,” he said. “All remaining members have been on the board since this process began. This is not going to slow us down. We are going to continue to focus on the health care issues at MRMC.”

In her media release, Hewitt said resigning would make room for another appointee who would continue what she started without being hindered by any doubts.

“I have taken my appointment to the board of trustees very seriously and feel, during my short tenure, that I truly represented our community and not my own interests nor did I ever bow to the pressure of outside influence,” she said. “Because of this I feel it is in the best interest of our community to allow Mayor Stratton and the Council to appoint someone to the board who will continue and maintain that charge absent of this controversy.”

Stratton, who was at a conference in Oklahoma City on Friday, issued a media release.

“The Mayor and Council appreciate Kathy’s efforts to serve Muskogee honorably,” she said. “Although I believe the allegations of conflict of interest is premature, at least; I do support the board’s efforts to conduct a transparent process in looking at options for MRMC’s future. The Council and Mayor will be considering a strong replacement quickly for Kathy’s position on the MRMC Board.”

Reach Keith Purtell at 684-2925 or kpurtell@muskogeephoenix.com.

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