The Cambrian

WEB ONLY: Fire chief firing affects healthcare district plans

At its monthly meeting Tuesday, Cambria Community Healthcare District directors will have to rethink its administrative options in the wake of the unexpected firing April 12 of Cambria Fire Department Chief Mark Miller. Miller has appealed his firing.

With current administrator Don Melendy due to retire in June, directors of the agency that provides North Coast ambulance and other healthcare services narrowed its options for replacing Melendy to either hiring a part-time replacement, or contracting with the Cambria Community Services District, which runs the Cambria Fire Department, for administrative services.

The two options were to be short-term solutions, according to Board President Greg Bates, until the two districts could decide about a joint-powers agreement to provide a framework for combining operations, or at least sharing some personnel, equipment and a location at the Burton Drive fire station. Both choices were intended to include training for administrative assistant Heidi Holmes so she could eventually take over the responsibilities.

“The healthcare district is a very unique animal,” Trustee John Headding told The Tribune. “It requires oversight by someone with extensive education in healthcare administration.” Headding said he’s confident that “there are individuals out in the community who have the qualifications to manage our district.”

Headding, a pharmacist and former hospital administrator, added that he’s “very much pro collaboration, and I think that agenda needs to move forward more quickly. But I don’t want my organization to get caught in the middle of a lot of agenda items that could potentially minimize the importance of delivering healthcare services.”

The healthcare board meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Rabobank, 1070 Main St., Cambria.