Mendocino Coast District Hospital Planning Committee July 18, 2017

Time for MCDH to listen to the Community

Marianne McGee, MA/ABS

Like politicians at the federal, state, county and city governments, Mendocino Coast District Hospital (MCDH) staff and board members need to listen to their constituents and respond to their feedback, rather than to act as if they know better about what we need, than we do.

After longer than an hour of expensive feedback from the consultant, who conducted last summer’s telephone interviews, which indicated people would support increased taxes to continue providing the vital services provided by Obstetrics (OB) and Emergency (ER), Chair Kevin Miller still did not understand the need for the direction for increased taxes come from the community, rather than by MCDH staff and board dictates.

Community members attending the meeting expressed frustration at Dr. Miller’s apparent lack of understanding of Michael Reimenschneider’s presentation, which repeatedly hammered the point that transparency, listening to positive and negative feedback and seeing how MCDH fits into the community’s vision of health care is crucial to success.  Michael Reimenschneider also shared vital information regarding the advantages and options available to the hospital utilizing tax measures.

Although CEO Edwards is now finishing yet another PowerPoint presentation to parade out to organizations, it was made clear today that the only chance for MCDH taxpayers to make the hospital financially successful is for the needs of the community to be heard, respected and responded to. And volunteers, truly representative of the Mendocino Coast, must lead any parcel or bond tax initiatives, rather than hospital staff, board or foundation leaders.

Eventually, CEO Bob Edwards directed Chair Miller, who does not appear to even know how new MCDH Planning Committee members are appointed, to abandon the idea of shoving a November 2017 tax measure down voter’s throats.  Instead, the Planning Committee eventually voted to “request the MCDH Board to hold a joint MCDH Board/Planning Committee retreat to develop a plan to accomplish the 2030 seismic building requirements and long term financial viability plan.”

Volunteer Kirk O’Day requested that he be replaced as the MCDH Finance Committee representative to the Planning committee.  A request will also be made to the MCDH Board of Directors to replace the two recently resigned Planning Committee members.  When Gayle Moon pointed out there was also room for one more Planning Committee member, bringing the total membership to 9, Board Member Kitty Bruning complained that adding another member would make decision making more difficult.  Most groups prefer an odd number of members in case of a tie, nine is not an unwieldy number of people and it is another opportunity to garner genuine community input.

Steven Kobert gave an update on the current building projects which are critical to estimate just how much money is needed as MCDH moves forward.  He also dropped the bomb that it is likely that the 2030 seismic building requirements will necessitate a new facility, although the original building may be re-purposed for less restrictive uses.  Mr. Kobert is continuing to provide critical information and oversight on building projects, which is invaluable to the planning process.

The primary community comments that concluded the meeting was journalist Malcolm Macdonald presenting a list of questions regarding an alleged computer hack and/or cyber attack on the MCDH transcription service provided by Nuance.

Now, as it is at all levels of government, a critical time for Mendocino Coast residents to stand up, be heard and voice their ideas and opinions on our community health care needs!  Stay informed and involved because the decisions made today will impact this health care district and this community for decades to come!

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