Cambrian: Opinion

It’s time for new leadership on the Cambria Community Healthcare District Board

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

Every once in a while, we each have a chance to make a real difference with our vote. This November, that opportunity has come.

Your choice of three candidates for the Cambria Community Healthcare District will determine whether the vital services upon which we all depend — ambulance and the active recruitment of healthcare providers and resources to town — will thrive.

The district is truly at a crossroads. Six years of significant deficit spending have made the future of these services tenuous. A long series of bad decisions has created this situation.

It’s time for a change. And the choice is clear.

There are three open positions. There are four candidates. Three of the four — Laurie Mileur, Iggy Fedoroff and Bill Rice — are just what the district needs. They are problem-solvers, with the skills and experience needed to get the district back on track.

Mileur is a healthcare expert and former University of Utah professor with a doctorate in exercise physiology and expertise in neonatal nutrition. Rice is a CPA with high-level corporate finance experience in healthcare as well as other industries. Fedoroff is a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel whose background includes extensive contract management and business process automation in both the military and the defense industry.

Last year, these three presented the CCHD board with a well thought-out plan to eliminate the district’s deficits through cuts in administrative overhead, not in ambulance service. The board has rejected nearly all these ideas, including a proposal to eliminate use of a Ford Expedition, wholly at district expense, for commuting by an employee living in Paso Robles.

Instead of cutting fat, the board decided (with Barbara Bronson Gray dissenting) to eliminate one of the district’s two nighttime ambulances. I am told this is a 25 percent cut in service and maybe an 8 percent reduction in spending.

A key advocate for that decision was Director Bob Putney, the fourth candidate on the CCHD ballot.

Putney has been on the CCHD board for eight years, and for most of those years he has been in a position of leadership — board president or vice president or chair of the board’s finance committee. More than any other individual, I believe Putney bears responsibility for the board’s current condition.

Cambrians will recall that Putney was once fire chief in Cambria. He may well argue that he is the only candidate who has worked in emergency services. I will grant him that, as he did a good job as fire chief. But as an incumbent of eight years, the only part of his experience that matters now is his work on the CCHD board.

I have been told by the candidates and a board member that on his watch, a once-healthy cash reserve has nearly vanished, something Putney did not deny at the candidates forum. Two full-time ambulance shifts have been reduced to one-and-a-half. He and the board majority have refused to consider most of the cost-cutting ideas presented to them. Instead, I learned at the candidate’s forum, he is now asking voters to approve a parcel tax. The CCHD does not need a new tax. Nor does it need four more years of the failed status quo.

It needs new leadership. Mileur, Fedoroff and Rice are the candidates who will provide it.

Mel McColloch is the Cambria Chamber of Commerce president and has been a resident of Cambria for 32 years.
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