Are leadership & membership changes enough?
Editorial by Marianne McGee, MA
While a couple of significant changes occurred at the almost nonexistent Mendocino Coast District Hospital (MCDH) Planning Committee meeting August 22, strong community input is still vital to any successful outcomes. Although there were 12 people in the audience, they were ready to declare “no quorum” when Dr Miller and Dr. Bellah appeared, allowing the meeting to legally proceed. This committee has a history of no quorum and no regular monthly meetings over the last year, especially distressing given the critical nature of its tasks.
MCDH Board President Steve Lund replaced previous Planning Committee Chairperson Dr. Kevin Miller with himself as well as replacing Board Member Kitty Bruning with himself! Kevin will continue as a member on this committee while Bruning will not. Considering the lack of leadership and irresponsible actions evidenced by Miller and Bruning, this was a necessary and vital move. Hopefully, this change will lead to regular monthly meetings with more effective leadership and enhanced community participation.
Suddenly there were now 3 candidates for MCDH Planning Committee membership including the agendized Rob Scott, as well as Jade Tippett and Carole White. John Allison requested transferring from the MCDH Finance Committee to Planning Committee and Charlene McAllister will represent the MCDH Foundation, which left only 2 seats of the 9 to fill. Mr. Tippett withdrew his name, out of concern that there needs to be more diverse community representation, thus assuring Carole White’s appointment. Mr. Lund appreciated this move, as he indicated his support was for Scott and White, as long time community members.
This new arrangement of the deck chairs, while an improvement, is a far cry from actual broad community representation, still relying on more affluent, Caucasian, retired, professional males instead of our diverse citizenry. Many of these people have been at the MCDH helm for years, which has brought the hospital to the brink continuously and we were hoping for several fresh faces, ideas and energy.
Mr. Lund made it clear the joint MCDH Board, Committee and management staff retreat scheduled for September 23, while held “in public” will focus on planning various strategies for the hospital’s financial needs. It will consist of a “range of possibilities” including facility replacement, operational funding issues and presentations to the community. His timeline included:
- October and November: MCDH Board/Management representative will make presentations to community groups.
- End of November: MCDH conduct another telephone survey to judge tax payer support.
- January and February: MCDH shares survey results with the community.
- End of February/early March: MCDH submits parcel tax for June election with mail in ballots.
- This timeline leaves 6 weeks for parcel tax campaign that MCDH can’t conduct itself.
It is unclear to this reporter how the financial planning he proposes is congruent with the work of the Friends of the Hospital, an informal advocacy group, the recommendations of their Consultant Michael Reimenschneider and the legal requirements that dictates a tax proposal campaign is not led nor financed by MCDH, its staff, Board or Foundation. Most importantly, this process must include MCDH truly listening, hearing and responding to all segments of the coastal community! Providing fancy PowerPoint dog & pony shows to service organizations and mailing expensive brochures exaggerating achievements to voters will not win any tax supporters. Only open and honest DIALOG WITH COMMUNITY will provide MCDH with the resources required to keep it open in its present circumstances.