MCDH Planning Committee April 18 2017

Marketing plan scrapped, OB not discussed

Marianne McGee

The very short Mendocino Coast District District Hospital (MCDH) Planning Committee, again populated by staff and several retired older males with the exception of Kitty Bruning, notably missed opportunities to interact with the community with its decisions on April 18, 2017.

CEO Bob Edwards announced that he has reversed the previous decision to hire a consulting firm to enact his Marketing Plan.  Apparently management staff persuaded him to hire a new staff position to deal with the elements contained in the plan, which may make more sense given the previous approach.  In fact, rather than just having a Marketing Plan, which is more of a cover up, the real need is for a Communications Official, who could initiate a comprehensive plan to enhance communications as well as address the technical needs such as the outdated and inadequate website.

MCDH needs to advertise how the community can voice concerns and complaints, not just having them falling onto deaf and defensive ears.  Many people carry old and new unresolved issues, which if addressed with cheer-leading platitudes and not  truly heard, will continue to haunt community trust and usage, sinking hopes for a future tax increase.  This position could honestly listen to community concerns and address real issues, not just gloss over previous problems with expensive, glossy materials.

The other major issue was how to tackle a legally required Community Needs Assessment because of MCDH’s nonprofit status.  The draft plan addressed working closely with other healthcare providers, local services providers, governments and community members to assess health needs, which would improve communications and build relationships.  Instead, CEO Edwards is going to handle the assessment in house as staff has to conduct quality measures to track patients with specific health conditions for the North Coast Family Health Center (NCFHC) quality bonus program.  The need for this document also bring up the previously unanswered question of why there do not appear to be any IRS 990 forms filed for the hospital as a nonprofit organization.

Another lost opportunity is that MCDH turned 50 years old on March 6, 2017, which could have involved events or celebrations to put the hospital positively in the public eye. These activities could have accentuated the age of the facility and reminded people of the need for improvements by 2030.

Fortunately, although Chaired by Dr. Kevin Miller, the Planning Committee did not further advocate for closing Obstetrics (OB) at this meeting.  While the Planning Committee had passed the OB report to the MCDH Board of Directors without comment, Dr. Miller announced it should be closed when he presented it there.   The needs to have labor & delivery services and an effective emergency department were the primary concerns expressed by the August 2016 telephone survey respondents.

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