Overflow crowd attends MCDH Board Meeting
Marianne McGee, May 27 2016
An overflow crowd, with some people having to watch from the hallway, witnessed significant progress at the Mendocino Coast District Hospital (MCDH) Board meeting on Thursday May 26, 2016. While concerns the Planning Committee was exploring the closure of Labor and Delivery (L&D) services brought local citizens to the meeting, most stayed for the entire session which has been a critical missing element to rebuilding a healthy hospital.
Chair Tom Birdsell opened the meeting by moving that agenda item up to accommodate the public and prefaced the item by informing the crowd there would be an open community meeting in an appropriate facility before any decisions to close this vital service would be made. Planning Chair Kitty Bruning, who once supervised the unit, gave an emotional report on the difficult issues facing L&D, including the high costs of staffing the tightly regulated service, compounded by decreasing numbers of births. Dr. Glusker reframed the discussion from whether to close the unit or not to how to continue its operations and solve its problems. The Board voted to proceed with gathering more research and data to really get accurate information with which to proceed.
With the promise of an open mike at a special meeting, public comments were limited to offers of collaboration from a nurse, a midwife and Lucresha Renteria, Mendocino Coast Clinics (MCC) Executive Director, which assumed the clinic portion of the program when MCDH relinquished it 10 years ago. The Board also extended the OB/GYN and Pediatric contracts with MCC, which are vital to Labor & Delivery services, for one year while CFO Sturgeon works on renegotiating them.
Chair Birdsell publically acknowledged the obvious fact that the MCDH Board has had issues working together and have a need for in service training and education. Ellen Hardin gave a detailed resume of Dr. Dennis Strum, a potential facilitator/trainer, who she highly recommends. While one staff member insisted they should just all get along and spend that money on staff wages, I believe having a skilled facilitator is critical to the ongoing survival and success of MCDH. I have a Masters Degree in Organizational Development and know that for MCDH to move forward in a positive direction, they need the assistance of a very skilled professional! While the costs are dependent on the scope of the work and it may appear to be very expensive, it is vital that the MCDH Board and staff address their issues in a healthy manner or it is doomed. This community absolutely needs this hospital or it too will decline.
While the financial picture is improving, there are complex funding issues still facing MCDH. As a result
Chair Birdsell is looking for interested and experienced people to join a Task Force to study the hospital fees and structure, looking to develop a path to keeping MCDH financially stable and viable. It is clear that Management staff and the Board are really working diligently to explore every financial option, including refinancing its bonds to also save money.
Watch the video, see these interesting interactions and other important items that were discussed or decided. There is new staff and new services being initiated. Educate yourselves on what is happening at MCDH.
I am often sadly surprised at how little many people know about what is transpiring at the hospital, in our schools, in our community organizations, in our city and county governments. The Mendocino Coast is at some life changing intersections and it is incumbent on us as citizens to be well informed participants. If our community fails, we will all suffer with nobody to blame but ourselves. And what a shame that would be in one of the most beautiful spots on the planet.