Saturday, September 23, 2023

Letter to the Editor: Be Forewarned! Mendocino Coast Residents May Lose Control of Your Healthcare Future


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The Mendocino Coast Health Care District exists so that members of the public can have a say in the future of health care on the coast. However, there appears to be an effort underway to dissolve the district and hand your future and your taxpayer money over to a distant Board of Supervisors.

Individuals who have proposed an ad hoc committee for exploring this option are the Fort Bragg Mayor Bernie Norvell, Supervisor Ted Williams and reporter Malcolm Macdonald.
Dissolution could occur if the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo), either on its own or as the result of a petition from the Health Care District Board of Directors itself. Dissolution could be justified on the basis that the district no longer serves a meaningful purpose. That last part would be quite a stretch since the district plays a vital role in overseeing the Lease Agreement with Adventist, providing funding for maintenance and repairs, and setting aside money for a new facility that meets earthquake requirements by 2030. Other than that, not much, right?

This is where a warning is needed. A vote by the public is not required!

There are seven members on LAFCo. Two are Supervisors; presumably they would recuse themselves (see below). Of the remaining five, only one member lives in the district, specifically Point Arena. Simply put, the coastal area is not well represented.

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After dissolution, Mendocino County would be named the successor agency and would seize the district’s land, hospital, bank accounts including cash assets equal to $10M today ($25M by 2029), and revenue streams including a property tax, the parcel tax and the Lease Payment by Adventist Health.

The Board of Supervisors, including three who do not live on the coast, would then be in a position to determine the future of your health care. Given their cozy relationship, the Board of Supervisors would likely accede to the wishes of Adventist Health.
Norvell, Williams and Macdonald have appeared at the District’s Board meetings voicing their support for this dissolution.

AVA reporter Malcolm Macdonald is more than playing his part. He has flooded Board members with information on dissolution and written opinion pieces suggesting dissolution is the only viable option to maintain a hospital on the coast. His dishonest criticism of the District’s Board can now be seen in a new light – discredit the Board as a whole and make the case for dissolution.

How sad that Macdonald thinks so little of the people in this coastal community that he cannot envision a better Board come December. That the only solution to the Board’s current difficulties is to dissolve the district and have it managed by what he perceives as the superior talent inland. When has that ever been to the benefit of the coast?

If you are alarmed by this behind the scenes maneuvering to leave you out of future health care decisions, now is the time to express your opposition to Mayor Norvell and Supervisor Williams.

-John Redding, Serves on the Board of Directors for the Mendocino County Health Care District

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MendoFever Staff
MendoFever Staff
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