The Cambrian

Cambria Community Healthcare District loses two key employees in past month

The Cambria Community Healthcare District building on Main Street.
The Cambria Community Healthcare District building on Main Street.

The Cambria Community Healthcare District’s new administrator and longtime paramedic/operations manager have resigned within just about a month.

Both former employees declined to give in-depth, specific reasons why they left their district jobs, although expanded professional opportunities factored into former ops manager Jason Melendy’s decision, he said in a phone interview.

CCHD Board President Barbara Bronson Gray said the board is finalizing the hiring of a new interim administrator, who is expected to start work soon after the board meets to consider approval of the contract at a special meeting scheduled for Friday, May 3.

“The new administrator has extensive experience in public-sector management and will be working a minimum of 20 hours a week while assisting the board in conducting a search for a permanent full-time administrator,” Bronson Gray said. “This is an approach similar to what Coast Unified and the CCSD are doing.”

Bronson Gray said Tim Benes is serving as the district’s interim operations manager, and “we expect Tim to continue in the role while the board decides on how best to structure the management of operations.”

Bronson Gray said district finances have improved over the past year.

“Specifically, we have turned around a deficit of $91,293 (for fiscal year 2017-18) to a projected surplus — revenues over expenses — of $30,492 for the current fiscal year,” she said. “We have done this both by increasing revenues by about $47,000 and cutting expenses by about $75,000.

“Also, the expenses for the current fiscal year include a transfer to $30,000 into reserves. In other words, we have gone from draining reserves each year through deficit spending to adding to reserves through a surplus.”

In 2018, the district reduced the nighttime coverage from two ambulances and staff to one, cutting substantially CCHD outlay for salaries, benefits and workman’s compensation.

‘The staff is awesome’

Retired Army Col. Maureen Robles-Wilson started as part-time administrator Jan. 17 with 24/7 responsibility for the district.

The Cambria resident resigned as of April 25. In her military career of 25 years, Robles-Wilson was officer in charge of the emergency and outpatient services in Dubai Hospital, which treated U.S. military personnel in the United Arab Emirates. She also served as command nurse in Los Alamitos, and as the acting commander of the 349th Combat Support Hospital, responsible for the deployment, mobilization and re- integration of returning troops from overseas.

“I really think they need a full-time administrator, and I only wanted to work part time,” Robles-Wilson said of the district.

She said it was something she discussed with the district at length before she was hired.

There are things she regrets about having resigned from her new job, she said.

“The staff is awesome,” she said. “The work was fun and interesting.”

She also said she was “really impressed by county staff, our partnerships with Cambria Fire Department and Cal Fire. It was heartening to see how prepared they are, how well everybody works together. I think it would be sad to lose that.”

Job ran in the family

Melendy began his healthcare career on Feb. 6, 1999, as an emergency medical technician at the Cambria district. He graduated from paramedic school in 2001, and then worked fulltime for San Luis Ambulance Service while continuing part time for the Cambria district. He went full time in July 2004 and became operations director most recently in Aug. 2016.

He was the latest member of his family to administer district operations. Melendy family ties to the district began more than 50 years ago when his grandmother, Doris “Dorie” Melendy, was the ambulance service’s first driver. Her sons, Dave and Don Melendy, served consecutively as the CCHD administrator, and other family members also worked for the district.

Jason Melendy said that, with that history and 20 years of his own experience invested in the district, it was a wrenching decision to leave. The hardest part, he said, was telling his dad, former CCHD district administrator Don Melendy, who was and is supportive and understanding about his son’s job change.

Not only did Jason Melendy spend two decades working for the district he loves, “my family really invested their whole lives in it,” he said.

“My wife and kids sacrificed a lot,” he said. “There comes a time when you have to put life in perspective and start putting family first.”

After he resigned, Melendy went to work for San Luis Ambulance, a “busier company” that will give him the chance to become a county training officer for “the next generation of paramedics,” as his uncle Don Melendy was.

“I hope to start teaching at Cuesta College,” he said, perhaps as early as next year.

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