Cambrian: Opinion

The people, armed with facts, should set CCHD's course

I  am writing to correct some inaccuracies and misimpressions contained in Kathe Tanner’s July 23, 2015, article titled “CCHD vote could change board officers.”

When this Viewpoint is published, I may or may not still be president of Cambria Community Healthcare District board and Barbara Bronson Gray may or may not be vice president. However, regardless of whether we continue to hold our positions, it is vitally important that all citizens have clear and accurate information concerning the activities of the CCHD and the options available for the district’s future. 

(Editor’s note: No motion was made or vote taken at Tuesday’s meeting to change any officers serving on the CCHD board.)

To begin, the philosophical difference among board trustees is not over whether we keep our present ambulance service. During my term as trustee, the board has never considered whether to contract out our ambulance service and, to my knowledge, no trustee contemplates such a change.  

In my view, the fundamental differences on the board revolve around whether the public should play a significant role in the determination of the future of the CCHD and the health care services and facilities offered in the service area. Trustee Gray and I believe strongly that public input is vitally important. Under the old bromide “no good deed goes unpunished,” our reward is that the other board members placed on this Tuesday’s agenda an action item to remove us as board officers.   

The formation and intended mission of the ad hoc nurses committee focuses on the foregoing philosophical differences among board members. The committee was formed as a means to receive professional and public input on the desire and need for certain expanded local medical services and facilities. 

Although one trustee who opposed the committee from the beginning has erroneously alleged that the board authorized just a single meeting of the committee, that contention (reported in the article as fact) is simply inaccurate and belied by the audio recordings of the CCHD monthly board meetings that are available to all on the district’s website. There was no such “one meeting only” limitation imposed when the board created the nurses committee. Furthermore, our district administrator, Bob Sayers, has attended each nurses committee meeting (except one, when he was on vacation) and duly reported the committee’s activities at the next CCHD regular board meeting.   

The rub came when the nurses committee submitted a preliminary informal and limited survey to determine whether the individuals surveyed believed they were underserved when it comes to ad­equate local medical care and what they would like to see changed.  The committee’s informal and preliminary survey, incidentally, was consistent with a report of Administrator Sayers concerning the statistical demographics of the district’s population. 

Following the survey, Trustee Gray was verbally and unprofessionally attacked at a public board meeting when one trustee called her a “rogue trustee” because the nurses committee conducted such a survey. It is incomprehensible why any Healthcare District trustee would not want to know what the people think about the level of health care options they have or want. Of course, the survey was not intended, and the results do not suggest, any structural changes to our ambulance service, which continues to be held in the highest regard by both the trustees and the public at large. 

The Cambrian news article reports some additional misunderstandings regarding the district’s recent proceedings and related information. The audio record of board meetings will bear out that Trustee Gray has not, contrary to assertions of another trustee quoted in the Cambrian article, brought up the subject of an expanded medical facility, “two, three, four times a meeting.” Further, the trustee’s reported claim that the Morro Bay Urgent Care Center is “barely surviving,” is unsupported by corroborative data. To the contrary, it is my understanding that this “barely surviving” urgent care center is healthy enough to be opening another such facility in Atascadero. 

The Cambrian article stated that Trustee Gray is married to CCSD’s contract information officer, suggesting there may be a conflict of interest. CCHD and CCSD are two separate entities and such an inference of impropriety is totally unjustified. 

Finally, the Cambrian article quotes a CCHD trustee as saying taxpayers may not support any expanded health care facility because it would cost more money. 

The truth is that no proposal has been considered because the public has not yet had the opportunity to weigh in on the options and much preliminary work must be done both as to the CCHD Strategic Plan and any specific projects that may follow. In my view, all trustees should keep open minds about all options until the underlying wishes of the community are known and the facts gathered. 

What Trustee Gray and I seek is to gather facts and present them to those whom we serve. 

The prematurely expressed opinion of a trustee who does not yet have all the facts should not decide an issue. The people, armed with all the facts, should ultimately decide. That is all Trustee Gray, our administrator, Bob Sayers, and I have been trying to do: gather facts to present to the community and to our fellow trustees.