To the Editor:

As the campaign for the Board of Directors of the Southern Humboldt Community Healthcare District nears its end there has been much back and forth on the history of the district. I would like to say a few words as to the future.

The first very important task will be to select and hire a new administrator who will take over when Debbie Scaife leaves in June. Having served on the board for 8 years, I have a very good grasp of what skills the job requires and can help with that decision. Another challenge will be to deal with the earthquake retrofit mandated by the state legislature. This will be a costly proposition and will require careful consideration of all the alternatives. The deadline for this is only 4 years away. The troubling slump in the economy both at the state and national level will require real vigilance to make sure the district receives its fair share of government reimbursements. The projected decline in state tax revenues will put pressure on the funding of Medi-Cal/Medicaid. All these issues will take a cool, level-headed approach to problem solving. I believe I can contribute to this process in a positive way.

One of the issues that will have to be addressed is the ongoing meddling in personnel issues by Mr. Cherney and his proposed “slate.” No administrator worth his or her paycheck is going to tolerate board members second guessing them on hiring or firing staff. Especially board members with zero experience in healthcare delivery. While the board may be asked to weigh in on general policy regarding personnel, there is no place for amateurs dealing with individual employee issues.

Another issue that has been presented as a goal by these folks is hiring M.D.s who would come and live here so we could save money by not using “rent a docs” in the E.R. If Mr. Cherney bothered to ask he would know that we sought that scenario for years. To staff the E.R. rotation requires at least three M.D.s who are qualified and wish to work there. Of the three M.D.s currently working full time in the community, only one is working in the E.R. He is not considered “local” by Mr. Cherney because he lives in Fortuna. The bottom line is when we looked at this problem in the past we couldn’t figure out what these M.Ds would be doing when they weren’t in the E.R. There isn’t enough business to afford having more full time people in the district even if you could find them.

In closing, I would like to repeat my full support of Nancy Wilson’s continuing on the board. I don’t believe the community is fully aware of the time she spends being the district’s link to other agencies or the number of meetings she attends while doing so. Mr. Cherney’s attacks on her go beyond criticism into cruelty.

The next four years will be a challenge and I believe that I am uniquely qualified to deal with that challenge. I welcome your vote.

David Kirby


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