Listen to the Community and actively involve them in MCDH
Terrence Vaughn & Marianne McGee
The major issue driving hospital problems was illustrated once again at the Mendocino Coast District Hospital (MCDH) Planning Committee on March 21, led by Chair Kevin Miller, MD.
CEO Bob Edwards rolled out a marketing proposal that Chair Miller wanted more detail on. Edwards appears to think throwing up to $130,000 on a marketing campaign with glossy materials, to be sent to district households, will encourage local support and increased use of the hospital. This proposal wasn’t accompanied by any details yet when committee chair Miller asked for more than a simple one paragraph description he was met by resistance by all of the other board members. The proposal reeks of cronyism if Bob Edwards will not reveal the name of who is making the proposal and asserts that he could hire someone for this marketing plan without the committee’s approval. This alarming reaction to Chair Millers request for details speaks volumes to Edward’s personal investment in this proposal. Why is the committee being kept in the dark about this proposal that they blindly forwarded to the Board of Directors.
This proposal lacks:
- A future needs assessment.
- Inventory of existing and past underutilized marketing campaigns and resources such as video commercials that haven’t been deployed in a campaign yet and web and social media platforms that are sitting idle with no direction.
- A comprehensive, detailed presentation of what the vendor is proposing, with expectations, costs, timelines, specifications, goals and objectives.
- Who are they marketing to, the general public, patients or employees?
- No competitive bid, which won’t be forthcoming without a “Request for Proposal”.
The most significant problem is the failure of the board and staff to openly listen and respond to, with understanding, coastal resident’s issues, without defensiveness. Trust has been broken with the community and it will never be rebuilt without open and honest dialog and problem solving, not just glossing over the issues with more glossy brochures.
The volunteer members on both Finance and Planning Committees are older professional people who came here to retire on healthy incomes. Most have not lived here very long at all, have no local history and do not understand the issues confronting so many of us, low wages, high cost of living as well as historical unresolved MCDH experiences. The City of Fort Bragg and Fort Bragg Unified School District actually receive additional funding because our population is so economically disadvantaged.
The Obstetrics (OB) report, which was briefly addressed at this meeting and just punted to the MCDH Board with attached minority reports, illustrates the lack of communication between the hospital and the community it is supposed to care for. Three long time local volunteers, Carole White, Tanya Smart and Lucresha Renteria donated a great deal of time and energy researching and reporting on possible solutions to ameliorate the situation, who were not well listened or responded to. These three women are intelligent and articulate and yet had to struggle to even have their ideas heard much less discussed. They represent 3 vital aspects of the community; education, social services and health care. These are informed, important community information sectors that MCDH needs to build relationships with and listen to their perspectives yet they do not appear to be respected, heard or included in the OB report. (A separate report will be filed on Mendocino TV regarding the OB Report)
The MCDH Board of Directors has consistently been composed of well heeled medical professionals, many with limited exposure to the broad range of people who make up the coastal community. Most board members, are either, still working at MCDH or retired from there or, like Steve Lund, have close relatives who do. This experience also impacts their perceptions and can limit their ability to see the bigger picture. The board is overwhelmingly dominated by older white males. What is their experience with a low income mom, pregnant and having small children at home getting to Santa Rosa for prenatal care and delivery?
There is no balanced community participation, except for a very few dedicated community volunteers, like Carole White, giving input which appears to be ignored. By not fully engaging the board, staff, volunteers and the voters in the process in the Community Needs Assessment 2016, this committee is ignoring the very community it serves, their opinions, wants and needs. This is the committee that document was prepared for. Why not read it and integrate into their plans. The hubris in the room is thick.
The one page $130,000 Marketing Plan, which does not appear to have been publicly released in a Request for Proposal (RFP) from a company that CEO Bob Edwards refused to reveal, is outrageous and even includes tasks Mendocino TV is already doing for free. Additionally, there are some 40 expensive marketing videos it does not address whose only circulation has been on YouTube and local Comcast channel 3 by Mendocino TV.
We believe at Mendocino TV that the act of publicly broadcasting the hospital board and committee meetings is the best way to get our community involved by revealing the problems, issues and solutions as they occur. We do not believe the community will respond as well to expensive glossy mailers as they would to good governance and stewardship of our community’s District Hospital. Acknowledging these problems and issues is the first step.