They were present in order to continue to express their discontent with the board’s decision to terminate former Patterson District Ambulance Chief Barry Hurd.
Shrouded in confusion in regards to a more than two-hour closed session, as well as the absence of health care district CEO Richard Nakamura, the group of patient paramedics and firefighters awaited their opportunity to speak during the public-comment period of the meeting and to hear a report regarding the closed-session items.
Following the closed session, board chairperson Ed Maring reported that direction had been given to staff and legal counsel regarding the items on the closed-session agenda but did not elaborate as to what direction, or which items he was referring to.
The closed-session agenda listed:
A. Public Employment: Title
– Interim Director of Ambulance Operations
B. Closed Session to Discuss Public
Employee Discipline, Dismissal or Release
C. Labor Negotiation EMS Association
D. Public Employment: Title
– Family Practice Physician, Medical Director
Employment and personnel matters aren’t typically discussed by governing bodies in an open forum, but that did not keep those in attendance from wanting answers.
“It’s okay,” said Tina Hurd, Barry Hurd’s wife, following Monday’s meeting. “We’ll be here next month and the next month until we get results.”
For the second monthly meeting in a row, DPHCD CEO Richard Nakamura was not present, leaving those in attendance of Monday’s meeting to speculate as to why he was not there.
“[Nakamura] did not attend tonight,” said Health Care District Attorney Jason Epperson when asked whether the CEO was excused or dismissed that evening.
Richard Nakamura did not return requests for comment as of press time.
Delya Stoltz, a Patterson District Ambulance paramedic of eight years, is also one of those seeking answers. She spoke during the open-comment period of the scheduled closed session, referencing Nakamura in Section B of the closed session agenda referring to the release, dismissal or discipline of a public employee.
“I said that former employees have reached out to me about negative dealings with Richard Nakamura,” said Stoltz. “I apologized for being negative, but explained that members of the district [board of trustees] don’t always know what’s really going on.”
Standing up for Barry
Her other comment on the closed-session agenda was in reference to Section A regarding the Director of Ambulance Operations, the position previously held by Hurd, and currently held in the interim by Paul Willette.
“Barry has a skill set that isn’t generic,” Stoltz told the board. “It’s a very specific skill set.”
For the third meeting in a row, the local EMS family has made its presence felt at the DPHCD. At least one local paramedic had her shift changed in order to attend the meeting. Hurd supporters continued to trickle into the lobby of the DPHCD building in the Keystone Pacific Business Park during the two-hour wait, while other first responders had to leave due to the excessive wait.
Jennifer Rocha, a 14-year paramedic and six-year employee with the DPHCD, spoke of Hurd’s commitment to serving the community. “When I first learned of Barry’s termination, I was so completely overcome with grief, anger and disappointment,” said Rocha during the closed-session public-comment period. “My first reaction was to quit immediately.
“Barry and I had a conversation, and he asked me, as well as many other employees, that while he was touched, our first priority was to serve this community. So here I stand, pleading to you to reinstate Barry Hurd, a great man, excellent boss and excellent paramedic,” Rocha told the board.
Hurd, who was also in attendance of the meeting, politely provided clarifications to the board regarding items on the agenda while sitting in the audience.
The regularly scheduled meeting began at approximately 8:40 p.m. with members Pitson, Beltran, Stokman, and Maring present; Hill was absent. Resolution 14-01 was approved on a 4-0 vote, calling for an election of three directors on Nov. 4, 2014 and requesting that the Board of Supervisors of Stanislaus County consolidate the district’s election with the statewide general election to be held on the same day.
A three-year agreement at the cost of $11,800 per year was unanimously approved by the board of directors for HFS Consultants, who provide reimbursement consulting services for the district.
A technical service support agreement to conduct maintenance and repairs on defibrillators/monitors used by the district at the cost of $17,550 for three years was also approved on a 4-0 vote for Physio-Control Inc.
A dispatch service agreement with American Medical Response was approved on a 4-0 vote at the cost of $22-per complete transport. 122 transports were conducted for the month of June, and approximately 115 are anticipated for the month of July, according to Interim Ambulance Director Paul Willette.
A newly refurbished ambulance was scheduled to arrive in Patterson Tuesday, bringing the Patterson District Ambulance’s number of working ambulances back up to four. Local paramedic Dave Hohl drove the ambulance up from Southern California.
Elias Funez can be reached at 209-892-6187 ext: 31 or firstname.lastname@example.org.