Candidate for Del Puerto Health Care Board
What do you specifically plan to accomplish if you are elected to the Del Puerto Health Care District Board? Why do you want to be on the board?
Why do I want to be on the board? I ask myself that question almost every day. I receive no compensation, pay my own way to meetings and other business matters, receive much criticism for not providing all things for all people and then, pay from my own pocket to run for the office.
My reason for running is to continue to expand health care in an orderly and financially solvent manner. The move to the new facility will more than double the space and will allow us to continue to expand services.
What are the immediate needs for health care on the West Side? What needs to happen to bring those services to Patterson?
For many months, Stanislaus County Supervisor Jim DeMartini has been working with representatives from Patterson, Newman and Gustine to determine what the immediate needs are. I am one of the representatives from the health board on this committee.
One of our immediate needs is scheduled to be completed today, the close of escrow on a new building that will give us much needed room to expand services. In a few days, bids are due back and the contract can be awarded and construction on the interior can begin. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is funding the entire project, and we have received word that the interest rate has dropped from 4 percent to 3-3/4 percent fixed for 30 years with no points. Another need has been achieved by the addition of Jennifer Cordier, M.D., pediatrician, to work with Dr. Eugene Lamazor. Joining our staff soon is Dr. Laila Akhbarati, who will provide psychiatry services on Thursdays.
What do you foresee for the future of health care on the West Side? Are there enough people on the West Side to support a future hospital or large-scale medical facility?
One of the services that I would like and I plan to explore is bringing some form of dialysis treatment to the West Side. As it stands now, people on dialysis from Gustine, Newman, Crows Landing, Patterson and Westley must travel to Turlock or Modesto for treatment. I feel if we can provide the numbers, that there is a good chance of getting one of the providers to bring something to the health care district.
As for a hospital or larger medical facility, I feel that we are some years away from that. To construct a hospital now costs in excess of $2 million per bed. To support a hospital, you must have the medical personnel in place for it to be successful and the insurance providers on board. Estimates are that it would take a population of approximately 100,000 people.
Is the Del Puerto Health Care District doing all that it can to maintain a positive bottom line financially? If financial cuts should be made, where should they happen?
I feel that financially the district is strong. We try to provide as much service as we can pay for to benefit the district. To add more profit, we could reduce the hours and cut some services; however, this would not be in the best interests of the people we serve. I do not think this would be wise. One of the fastest ways to improve the bottom line would be to stop all the legal challenges and lawsuits. The district has been forced to spend hundreds of thousands on attorneys in the last few years on these challenges and lawsuits. I would much prefer to spend that money on medical services for the people in the district.
Is the health care district doing all that it can to make its decisions transparent to the public? Are there any improvements that can be made in this area?
The health care board has no secret agenda. There are no secret meetings. No one on the board has anything to gain. Anything that is discussed in closed session is brought up in open session and voted on. The meetings are announced in the newspaper and posted. I am amazed at the people who complain about the lack of transparency who have never attended a meeting. If people want information, I suggest they attend meetings and ask questions rather than listen to disgruntled people in the community who have their own agenda.