Public Comments started when John Allison brought up the Audit Report, he recommended adapting the financial plan which is unsustainable now and it will be hard to get loans at decent rate in the future. Doctor Serrahn announced the new Hospitalist manager, William Miller, MD. There was a complaint that landowners far closer to Ukiah than the Mendocino Coast District Hospital were paying for services they don’t receive. It’s 70 minutes further to Mendocino Coast District Hospital than Ukiah’s hospital for them. The CEO reply to her was that the “Comptche School District was included which made no sense since there is no such thing as, The Comptche School District! There is a Mendocino Unified School District, though. Rex Gresset commented, “Amy was not noticed on last MCDH Board meeting when she had information regarding the Hardin lawsuit, (although it did appear she did learn about the meeting and did attend). According to Rex, “Mendocino Coast District Hospital is in financial trouble!” Ex Board Member Kevin Miller was pleased to support Bob Edwards as a “nice guy” and left the meeting after community comments. Another man had concerns about the parcel tax, as did Malcolm MacDonald to be addressed on that item.
There was a long presentation and discussion regarding the property tax exemptions on the newly levied tax. The boiled down facts include:
- Many people have property that have been assigned numerous parcel numbers, somewhat arbitrarily, so may apply for a tax consolidation/exemption.
- Property needs to be contiguous to have only one parcel numbers, which were assigned a long time ago and difficult to change. MRC property and water appear to be the reason for multiple parcel numbers.
- MCDH must have a uniform exemption/application process.
- 92 applications received and 80 approved, with the deadline extended to June 30, 2019. Most tax bills had all parcels taxed and you must apply to get refunds.
- When individuals are approved, they are now still billed for 2 parcels although not obtaining any additional benefit from the tax, which appears inequitable.
- Mendocino Redwoods Company (MRC) had their bill of $92,000 reduced to $10,000, which is disproportionate to individual taxpayer relief.
- The actual tax collected will be about 1.7 million dollars, after deducting $150,000 in tax exemptions.
- The MCDH Board decided they needed more information and education before making a formal decision on the application and process.
The Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) was created by State law in 1963 to provide assistance to local agencies in overseeing jurisdictional boundary changes. There is a group of Mendocino County residents applying to remove themselves from the MCHD district, which is a slow process. The Board voted to just follow what’s happening at LAFCo at this early point in time.
New officers were elected with unanimous votes, which give this reporter hope that real change may occur, that is vital to this hospital district remaining intact.
- President & Joint Powers Authority (JPA) Rep. : Karen Arnold
- Vice President, Planning Chair & JPA alternate: Jessica Grinberg
- Treasurer & Finance Chair John Redding
- Secretary: Steve Lund
The Board decided to keep their current auditors, DZA, as they have done a credible job and is now familiar with MCDH operations.
MCDH’s bond convenience is out of compliance with Cal Mortgage, which potentially allows it to appoint a receiver, make management decisions and charge fees. The remedy was to send them a copy of the budget and the new tax measure gave them the confidence to proceed with waiver for this year but can come in at any time. John Redding said his goal is to go net positive and keep with covenants with the long term goal of credit rating A. Now, including the 6 million dollar with Cal Mortgage, the MCDH debt level is at 60% when 33% recommended for small hospitals.
There was an interesting discussion regarding the hospital policies, which the board indicated needs to be updated. One item of particular concern was whether or not the CEO Bob Edwards and Chief of Medical Staff John Kermen, DO are subordinate to the board or are equals to the publically elected board members. While Kermen, a Osteopathic Doctor, not Medicine, insisted they are not subordinate to the Board of Directors, which is clearly spelled out in the hospital bylaws as being subordinate. Additionally an unidentified new staff person lectured the board on their need for hospital management education, apparently not recognizing that several members have a great deal of medical experience! While Amy McColley is an advocate of more board education, that woman’s lecture appeared inappropriate to me. The Board decided to increase transparency by having first and second readings if policies and make them accessible to the public. They also discussed setting new goals for the CEO and holding him accountable.
An introductory letter from the new William Miller, MD outlining his experience, his goals and desire to increase local utilization of MCDH was read.
There was a brief update on facilities from the CEO report. A new unfunded mandate requires that the hospital must provide services/transport/care to homeless people, which Mendocino TV will track. At this point John Redding mentioned his request to put the audit report and budget on website and it was not done. CEO Edwards mumbled something about how to address individual board requests and John can’t make a motion about it. While CEO Edwards did not comply with his request it cannot be discussed because it is not on agenda. Lund informed him he needed to request that it be on the next agenda.
While I found this meeting to be a bit chaotic with all the changes, I am very hopeful that this newly reconstituted board to be on the right track. There needs to be better amplification with a learning curve, including having all speakers using the podium. Mendocino TV, at this point, continues to provide this meeting as a community service, at our own expense, and donations are all welcome.