Transparency and community involvement were the election promises made by all four of the new successful Mendocino Coast District Hospital Board of Directors members while campaigning. And while these words continue to be bandied about, the April 25 board meeting again illustrated the gap between spouting those words and living their truth.
There has been a great deal of concern expressed by the community regarding the Request For Proposal (RFP) for Proposed Affiliation submitted to five health care organizations to sell or lease the hospital. The decision to release the RFP, with a short 30 day return date, was done via emails between individual board members and Interim CEO Wayne Allen, who began work on April 4, 2019. Many considered this a violation of the Brown Act, a state law designed to encourage transparency and community input.
While Wayne Allen gave a plausible explanation at the April MCDH Planning Committee meeting, it was only on the agenda tonight to add some legal verbiage and extend the deadline to May 17, not for public input on the process. John Redding has consistently expressed his concerns over the lack of transparency and what look like back room deals. He apparently researched legal advice that informed him of the Brown Act violation as well as language to repair the damage.
His concerns caused Steve Lund to withdraw his original motion and then seconded Mr. Redding’s alternative motion, echoing concerns about the vital role the community has to play in this process. The new motion, which would have the current RFP withdrawn and bring it to both the Committees and then to the May Board of Directors meeting, allowing ample time for public input, failed when only Lund and Redding voted in the affirmative.
After a great deal of discussion, eventually an alternate motion passed 4-1, with Redding voting no, to keep that current RFP in circulation with the added language, an extension of the return date to June 30 and to admit their error in the process.
There is an obvious rush to this RFP and it is very difficult to understand why, given the active participation of many people in MCDH business now, they did not hold a special meeting on short notice! It appears this rush and lack of public process has resulted in murmurings of “Brown Act,” violation as a “Serial meeting,” and public outrage over the lack of any public input or transparency. To some on the board, it appears that without the rush, now eased by 50 days, it will take too long to for the hospital to be successful or financially sustainable. Nonsense, we have enough cash reserves to take the time for careful, reasoned decision making.
There was a fair amount of input, both in the Community Comments and throughout the meeting that is worth watching. While people have differing views as to the actual financial situation and what needs to happen, it is clear that there is a great deal of community concern and desire to have input into MCDH Board decisions.
Would the parcel tax pass today?
We are watching 3 newly elected board members undo the work of over a decade of CEO changes, Bankruptcy, Restructuring of Bonds, Law Suits and a hard fought parcel tax measure that barely passed. If MCDH passes this deal I certainly will boycott it and recommend that to everyone I know do also.