Kennewick Public Hospital District board Pos. 6 candidates tout experience

Sara Schilling, Tri-City HeraldOctober 19, 2013 

Both candidates for Position 6 on the Kennewick Public Hospital District board tout their experience.

Rick Reil, the incumbent, points to his three decades on the board, helping lead the hospital system -- recently renamed Trios Health -- through a time of transformational expansion and growth.

Challenger Erik Malson points to his expertise in finance and his years serving on the hospital foundation board.

Both said they're well-positioned to help guide the Trios system as it navigates a changing health care landscape and continued growth.

Ballots are due by Nov. 5.

District commissioners are paid $114 per day spent on meetings, with terms lasting six years.

Malson, 44, said he wants to serve the community by taking a seat on the board. He said he would bring a new perspective and energy to the position.

A credit underwriter who holds a Master of Business Administration degree with a specialization in finance, Malson in particular highlights his business/finance experience, saying he would provide sound insight on how to best use public dollars.

Malson also pointed to his years as part of the hospital foundation board, saying he's well acquainted with the workings of the hospital system. He has been on the foundation board since 2005 and served as president for four years.

He has participated in strategic planning sessions and helped redefine the foundation's strategic goals and strategies, he said.

Malson said he has attended numerous hospital district board meetings over the years, met with board members and is prepared to hit the ground running if elected.

The health care world is changing dramatically, and so is the Trios Health system, he said. "We have a brand new name, a new facility (coming next year). I think we need some fresh vision and I believe I bring that," Malson told the Herald.

Reil, 61, who owns Realife Photography in Kennewick, was recruited for the board in the '80s and now is its longest-serving member.

He says his deep knowledge of the hospital system is a valuable asset, especially as Trios opens a new Southridge hospital next year.

The board also faces significant turnover in the coming years because of expected retirements, he said, noting that several board members are in their mid-70s or older. Although Reil has the most years on the board, he's the second youngest member.

"Now is not the time to send your most experienced board member away," he said.

Reil said he's concerned about Malson's preparation because Malson hasn't attended board meetings since he filed for election.

"It's such a critical time, because right after the first of the year -- within months -- we'll be moving into a new facility," Reil said.

Reil points to the numerous additions and upgrades to facilities made during his board tenure, from expanded birthing and nursery space at the hospital to completion of the Medical Mall and expansion of services to the district's west end.

He said he loves the community and wants to continue serving it through his role on the board.

Reil and Malson have received endorsements from residents and community leaders, including current members of the hospital board.

Reil, for example, has been endorsed by board member Marv Kinney, while board president Jim Mefford endorsed Malson.

-- Sara Schilling: 582-1529; sschilling@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @saraTCHerald

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