The newly elected Mendocino Coast District Hospital (MCDH) Board of Directors voted to terminate CEO Bob Edwards’ employment contract, without cause, under its current conditions, after his evaluation. The motion was passed with 3 yes votes, 1 no vote and 1 abstention. Due to technical issues, we were unable to capture a clear role call of the vote. President Arnold thanked Mr. Edwards for his service and wished him well.
President Arnold announced that CFO Mike Ellis will serve in both his capacity and as Interim CEO for one month, as the Board negotiates a process to replace Mr. Edwards. While she indicated Mr. Ellis may serve in that position longer, she wisely added that she does not believe it is reasonable to expect an employee to occupy two essential positions for a prolonged period of time.
President Arnold announced there would not be a public comment item although she thanked the citizens attending for their time as this “tough decision” took nearly three hours of closed session. She hoped that we can “all work together to continue to keep the hospital afloat”.
In our opinion, the courage these new members exhibited in acting swiftly to prevent further Trump like administrative chaos is admirable. It will take valiant efforts to move forward as the hospital sits at the precipice, addressing the daunting task of recruiting and hiring a new CEO, particularly given the challenges facing MCDH. All four new MCDH Board Members campaigned on the willingness to initiate changes to stabilize hospital finances and facilities, improve the district‘s relationships and plan for the future community needs, so they have now taken a critical first step.
This does leave a number of unresolved issues and circumstances from former President Lund’s leadership vital to successfully moving MCDH forward.
- The ongoing lawsuit Hardin V. MCDH winding its way through the expensive legal system which also names CEO Bob Edwards, CFO Wade Sturgeon and Steve Lund. Under new leadership perhaps this action can find a satisfactory resolution without the continuing time and money spent dragging it through the system. Minimally, perhaps the public can at least learn what the current and projected associated expenses are. Additionally, what is the impact of Steve Lund being the last named person affiliated with the lawsuit?
- It appears the District’s Labor Negotiations are currently deadlocked, which has left many employees dissatisfied and demoralized. We have heard many staff are angry about previous agreements unfulfilled, reduced benefits and stagnant wages at the same time management has added new positions and increased their own salaries. This also impacts the recruiting and hiring of permanent local staff rather than its reliance on expensive travelers which negatively impact consistent patient care.
- We are concerned about what the final costs associated with Bob Edward’s contract, especially, given that last May former President Lund lead efforts to unnecessarily extend Mr. Edwards employment contract for an additional 3 years, making it effective until April 2022. While his personnel evaluation was graded as only “satisfactory” and he still had another year on his original contract it appeared to potentially handicap the future Board as at that point Steve Lund was the only director whose seat was not up for election. You can watch the video clip and our editorial from that meeting at https://mendocinotv.com/2018/05/09/mcdh-evaluates-ceo-edwards-performance/.
At the beginning of the public comment to this January 24 meeting President Arnold requested that citizens try to be less emotional when addressing the Board and staff in order to work together more effectively. You can watch that clip and see citizen response on this clip at https://mendocinotv.com/2019/01/24/mendocino-coast-district-hospital-special-meeting-january-24-2019/.
Many citizens have endured many long hours attending meetings where they have been directly gagged, cut off and told they have no right for input, in violation of the Brown Act designed to increase transparency. When input was allowed it generally was ignored or disregarded. So, people have become very frustrated and angry, contributing to emotional outbursts and what is perceived to be labeled as being against the hospital.
Additionally, I hope President Arnold directs the CEO to make the same requests of MCDH staff and contract Physicians! Mendocino TV has spent 3 years attending and videoing MCDH meetings, at our expense, have endured, like other media and citizens, staff and management lectures and shaming accusations that we are against the hospital when our goal has been to increase transparency and communication with the community. Last meeting, a new staff member jumped up, without utilizing protocol by clearly identifying herself and going to the podium, to emotionally lecture the board members about their lack of medical expertise when 3 of them actually work in the medical field!
So, the chaos of the January 10 meeting appears to have resulted in Ms. Arnold’s opening remarks on January 24. Hopefully this is the first step to better communications, transparency and relationships between everyone to deal with the challenges to make MCDH a healthy hospital meeting the needs of the community. It requires everyone to be respectful, abide by legal protocols designed to improve transparency, use the podium, and identify themselves to enhance communications and trust.
You can view that meeting at https://mendocinotv.com/2019/01/10/mendocino-coast-district-hospital-board-of-directors-january-10th-2019/.
Mendocino TV is finally truly hopeful the MCDH can move forward in a healthy manner, giving this community the healthy hospital it deserves. Watching this new Board of Directors in action, their courage and openness will provide the leadership MCDH needs to succeed!