Newly elected Telluride Hospital District board member Paul Reich was named board chair after former chair Richard Betts announced his resignation from the board July 22.

Betts resigned during a special meeting following a May 28 incident involving Dr. Sharon Grundy, primary care medical director at Telluride Regional Medical Center, led some of the staff at the medical center to express their concerns to the board. Betts allegedly verbally and physically harassed Grundy May 28 at the new Chair 7 Clinic annex.

The matter was addressed by Betts, who denied accounts alleged by several medical center staff and some community members at the July 22 special meeting.

The board of directors is responsible for engaging and evaluating the Telluride Regional Medical Center CEO and overseeing the medical center’s financial health and sustainability, according to a recent news release.

As board chair, Reich will direct the board’s effort to fill the vacant board seat and refocus on the long-held plan to build a new critical access hospital.

“I appreciate the confidence that the hospital board has placed in me by electing me as chair,” Reich said. “Telluride Regional Medical Center is a cornerstone in the fabric of our community. It has long enjoyed strong community support, has been fortunate to retain a highly qualified and professional staff, and has been blessed with many volunteers willing to serve in many different roles. While the last couple of months have been challenging for all, I am confident that we will work together to serve our community as we work toward our shared goal to build a new hospital facility in Telluride.”

Reich, who was elected to the board in May and will serve until May 2025, is a long-time resident of the Telluride region with significant experience working on the issues that impact the mental health of communities in San Miguel County. He is currently the community relations liaison at The Center for Mental Health, which is the community mental health agency serving six counties on the Western Slope. Prior to joining The Center for Mental Health as an employee, he served the organization as a board member and officer. He is a member of the Suicide Prevention Commission for the State of Colorado and the San Miguel Behavioral Health Solutions Panel.

Reich previously spent five years overseeing behavioral health programs at Tri-County Health Network and worked with others to pass a mill levy to fund behavioral health services in San Miguel County. Reich is also a past president of the Telluride R-1 School District Board of Education and past president of the Colorado Association of School Boards.

Beverly Schulman, the med center’s interim CEO, thanked Betts for his work as a board member and welcomed Reich.

“I want to thank Richard for his many years of service and significant contributions to the medical center and to the community,” she said in the release. “I look forward to working with Paul to fulfill the medical center’s mission.”

During the July meeting, Betts said his decision to resign was not necessarily a confession of wrongdoing. In a letter previously sent to the board and staff, Betts described an interaction with Grundy that became heated, and claimed he touched her arm as a gesture of support. The May 28 interaction, Betts wrote, stemmed from financial concerns surrounding the clinic’s operations expressed at a previous board meeting. The interaction was witnessed by Dr. Diana Koelliker. Grundy subsequently filed a report with the Telluride Marshal’s Department and sought legal representation.

“Board members have two primary and sometimes unpopular responsibilities, hire the CEO and ensure that financial guardrails are in place to protect the organization's sustainability,” Betts said during the July meeting. “And my tenure, I can think of numerous instances when a board member did their job and questioned the financial impact of a decision related to staff or facilities cost, only to be threatened with forced resignation. … I cannot in good conscience continue to work in an organization that punishes those who tell the truth and fails to take any action against those who undermine the efficient operations and professional environment of the organization. There is no doubt that to achieve success, the entire organization must be working together as a team with mutual goals and respect in order for us to accomplish the community's dream of a new medical facility. And sadly, that is not what has occurred.”