Note: This story is one installment in the 2022 Delta Health board election features. The Delta County Special Election will be held Tuesday, May 3.
Former Certified Public Account (CPA) Terry O’Brien is taking a second shot at a seat on the Delta County Hospital District Board of Directors.
O’Brien is among four candidates running for the hospital board.
The fifth-generation Delta County native will appear on the ballot as Terrence Daniel O’Brien as he strives to secure a three-year term in the upcoming special district election on May 3.
O’Brien attended Mesa Junior College in 1975 as a math and computer science major and graduated from the University of Denver in 1978 as an accounting, pre-law and computer science major. He also attended the Harvard Graduate School of Business Owners and President Management Program.
O’Brien first ran for a seat on the hospital board in 2020, competing against incumbent Jean Ceriani and Matt Soper. Ceriani, currently the board chairman, is a physician’s assistant while Soper, a board member, is an attorney and state representative.
O’Brien lost the seat with 1,795 votes (19.12%) out of 9,388 total votes, but he didn’t expect to win the first time around.
“Both of them are excellent candidates and excellent board members,” O’Brien said of his prior contenders. “They would have been impossible for almost anybody to beat. I did not expect to win, but I still got [1,795] votes, which was a surprise to a lot of people.”
The candidate dedicates his second campaign to his mother, who’s parting wish was that he “give back to the community,” specifically the hospital where she had positive experiences.
O’Brien’s platform revolves around financial transparency, healthier finances and financial transparency from the hospital board.
The campaign picks up where he left off with his first campaign as he seeks operational transparency from Delta Health and its board.
“Given my financial background, I looked at their finances and two years ago, I warned the community, including the Board of County Commissioners, that the hospital had severe financial problems and was not sustainable. That was two years ago,” O’Brien remarked.
O’Brien’s work focuses largely on filing CORA requests to the hospital, many of which include about 10 years of budgets, financials and audit reports, the candidate told the DCI.
He added that he has pushed the hospital board to emulate the school district and county in publishing their budgets, finances and audit reports on their website.
“So I’m just trying to say, ‘Be consistent,’” O’Brien said of the hospital board’s finance practices.
O’Brien also pledges to push for patient advocacy within the hospital if elected, something he described as “broken” at the moment. He cited the Patient Bill of Rights as a defining document in his efforts to advocate for hospital patients. The document outlines the twelve rights that health care patients are entitled to whenever they receive care.
While O’Brien doesn’t agree with every decision the board makes, he vows to maintain a cooperative relationship–whether or not he’s elected.
“You do everything cooperatively,” he said. “You cannot affect change by bullying and intimidation. You must work with people.”
He added that regardless of whether he wins or loses, he intends to cooperate with sitting board members on the sales tax initiative, pending further analysis.
O’Brien remains critical of the hospital’s “financial mistakes” and its sales tax initiative solution.
“You’ve got to clean up your own environment first,” he said. “If I get on the board, I’ll do everything to cooperate to affect change over time–and not overnight. But [I’m] cooperative, both to people on the same level, and to staff above and below.”
Cassie Knust is a staff writer for the Delta County Independent and Montrose Daily Press. Follow her on Twitter, @CassieKnust