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St. Mark's Hospital in Huronsville was planning to celebrate its 150th anniversary in 1993. As Huronsville's oldest hospital, the events were to be of great significance to the community. Plans had been made to produce a history of the hospital and funds were being raised to build a Ronald McDonald house as well.
The abrupt resignation of Dr. Bix Brendereich has, however, taken St. Mark's Hospital by surprise. As President, he had been abrasive and annoying, but few had doubted his abilities to get things done. The Board of Trustees had established an ad hoc Search Committee to recommend a successor.
The first meeting of the Committee proves to be a stormy one. The attempts of the Chair to have some agreement on the required qualifications for the post have been thwarted by members who had preferred to discuss other issues, such as the need for such a position, appropriate representation for all consumers on the Committee itself and the relations between the Hospital and the Community.
The Chair insists on focusing on the task at hand and emphasises the urgency. Some members feel that they are being railroaded into a quick decision and are concerned as to whether there will be a "Real Search" or the anointing of a candidate already chosen by the Board of Trustees. One member mutters "Are we seeing the operations of true democracy here, decisions first, input afterwards?"
The Chair abruptly terminates the meeting, hoping that the next one would be more fruitful.
This problem, written in the standard scenario form, permitted students to explore issues such as the role of hospitals, their organisation, the role of different sectors of the community. Even more importantly, I wanted them to assess the relevance of "democratic" processes in decision-making under such conditions.