http://almanacnews.com/print/story/print/2012/01/04/guest-opinion-sequoia-healthcare-8212-fact-vs-fiction


Almanac

Viewpoint - January 4, 2012

Guest opinion: Sequoia Healthcare — Fact vs. fiction

cTypeface:Bold>Editor's Note: Jack Hickey, a member of the board of the Sequoia Healthcare District, has for many years waged a losing battle to put the district out of business. District board chair Kim Griffin has a different opinion, and we present both sides here.

By Kim Griffin, RN

As an elected member and board chair of the Sequoia Healthcare District, I have in the past focused my energy on district projects and participating in the daily business of overseeing grants and programs; however, I am now compelled to assist fellow board member Jack Hickey in conveying the true mission of our district, which is dedicated to improving the health and quality of life of all district residents.

As Mr. Hickey documents in his article here, we are succeeding in many ways, including feeding the hungry, making sure that every child in our district has access to quality medical services, funding school nurses and healthy programs for more than 25,000 students, supporting breast cancer services and fitness classes for seniors.

While Mr. Hickey consistently maintains a negative and sarcastic view of those services, as a practicing health-care provider in our community I see them as a vital and basic means of keeping the community healthy and prosperous. I also know that maintaining the health of the community is cost-effective to the taxpayer at large since it is quite simply cheaper to pay for good health versus health problems.

Today the Sequoia Healthcare District is involved with more than 40 community health programs covering almost every health-care need from mental health services to hospice to hot meals for the homebound. We serve as our area's main advocate for disease prevention and wellness, and touch the lives of more than 30,000 residents a year directly and countless more indirectly.

The district's board of directors is composed of elected community leaders with a great majority of district residents overwhelmingly in favor of our efforts on their behalf. We take very seriously our stewardship of taxpayer dollars and keep administrative overhead to a low 6 percent, almost all of which comes from earnings on our investments, as well as the diligent oversight of our executive director Lee Michelson, who is often and unfairly publicly chastised by Mr. Hickey. We have a small but outstanding staff of highly educated and experienced professionals who support the board's desire to excel in all that we do.

With Mr. Hickey's vote the Sequoia Healthcare District did indeed get out of the "hospital business," but the district also has a long history of funding healthy community programs and grants. And while Mr. Hickey likes to refer to our grants and programs as "philanthropy," it should also be understood by the community that Mr. Hickey has very extreme views regarding all tax-funded programs, believing that public education should be abolished and the poor will be fed only by those who choose to feed them. It is little wonder that he has a problem with providing funding for a healthy schools program or life-saving equipment such as defibrillators and CPR devices now enthusiastically endorsed by our own fire departments.

What is most perplexing is Mr. Hickey's statement that we are funding an insurance program for children "with family incomes approaching five figures," an indication he is out of touch with the cost of living, the rising cost of health insurance and simply the sheer number of dollars required to survive in the Bay Area. Ironically, Mr. Hickey currently and consistently during his tenure on the board has collected his health-care benefit supplied by Sequoia Healthcare District.

Most unfortunate has been Mr. Hickey's criticism of district board member Arthur Faro, the former CEO of Sequoia Hospital who provided excellent stewardship of the hospital during some of the most tumultuous periods of health care. Mr. Faro is still held in high regard by physicians and nurses alike, an attribute that is admirable and rare in the current corporate health-care culture. One would assume Mr. Hickey's sarcastic comment regarding "white knight" Catholic Healthcare West "buying the right to take over (Sequoia) hospital operations" would indicate they did this without board approval; however, Mr. Hickey wholeheartedly agreed and voted to transfer ownership of the hospital to CHW.

Clearly Mr. Hickey would like to see the health-care district dissolved, and he intentionally fails to mention that in this case taxes continue to be collected and go toward the general tax fund where our district residents derive no direct benefit.

Similarly he chides the board for our use of public relations or "branding" while forgetting the board was strongly urged by the grand jury to provide adequate information to the public regarding district programs. The grand jury investigation was initiated by Mr. Hickey in order to advance his political dogma and eliminate the district board. And while Mr. Hickey continues to use his time to undermine the hard work of the other board members he declines to participate in any district program, never contributes his time to any of the community organizations funded by the district, and ridicules the citizens who attend board meetings to give testimony to the positive outcomes of our work.

Mr. Hickey did get one thing correct in his article: He is an elected member of the Sequoia Healthcare District Board. It is my opinion that he has not provided meaningful work as a board member and does not fulfill his duty as an elected official.

Kim Griffin is chair of Sequoia Healthcare District board.

Comments

Posted by Jack Hickey, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jan 4, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Kim Griffin, President of the Sequoia Healthcare District on which I serve, makes outrageous assertions in her OpEd (Fact vs. fiction). Here are a few examples:

Kim says "Clearly, Mr. Hickey would like to see the district dissolved and he intentionally fails to mention that in this case taxes continue to be collected and go toward the general tax fund where our district residents derive no direct benefit." That's a lie! My OpEd said; "The Sequoia Healthcare District should be dissolved, with tax revenue dispersed among the public entities within the district boundaries." And, I ask, do residents derive benefits from the 9 nurses trained with District tax dollars who were employed in Palm Springs?

Kim says, "...he chides the board for our use of public relations or "branding" while forgetting the board was mandated by the civil grand jury to provide adequate information to the public regarding district programs." David Rosner, a member of that Grand Jury stated at the Dec. 4, 2002 District Board meeting that "...it was not the intent of the Grand Jury that the District should engage in a campaign of this scope."

Finally, Kim says, "The grand jury investigation was initiated by Mr. Hickey to advance his political dogma and eliminate the board." Fact: the Sequoia Healthcare District was not on my radar screen until the media (Daily News - July 19, 2002) publicized the Grand Jury report and suggested that "This would be a perfect opportunity for county Libertarian Party leader Jack Hickey to get some of his people elected to office."
Since then I have been elected to the Board 3 times to carry out the Grand Jury's directive!

Jack Hickey, Member, Sequoia Healthcare District Board of Directors


Posted by Jack Hickey, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jan 4, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Kim says: One would assume Mr. Hickey's sarcastic comment regarding "white knight" Catholic Healthcare West "buying the right to take over (Sequoia) hospital operations" would indicate they did this without board approval; however, Mr. Hickey wholeheartedly agreed and voted to transfer ownership of the hospital to CHW."

There was no sarcasm in my comment. I was pleased in 1996 when the District, led by Brent Britschgi chose CHW to help the hospital recover from the $29 Million deficit incurred by former Sequoia hospital CEO Art Faro. They have done an excellent job, which is why the board, with my support, transferred complete governance and ownership to CHW in 2006. What little oversight function the District had over hospital operations is now non-existant.
Kim also says: "The district's board of directors is composed of elected community leaders with a great majority of district residents overwhelmingly in favor of our efforts on their behalf." What is notable is that in the last election (Nov. 2010), I received 25,133 votes (1,565 more votes than Art Faro). Also, in 2008, I received 30,378 votes with Kim Griffin narrowly beating me with 30,922 as I sought to capture a 4 year seat. (I retained my original seat with 2 years remaining.) My message remains clear, and resonates with a substantial number of voters.


Posted by Darwin Patnode, a resident of another community
on Jan 26, 2012 at 9:07 am

Kim Griffin's attack on Jack Hickey's philosophy seems arrogant and insensitive. It's interesting how the board of the Hospital District
has so many current and past medical professionals on it. Does
anyone believe that they are protecting the interests of the
voters and taxpayers as opposed to the interests of their cronies? Ms. Kim, a nurse, praises a hospital administrator and endorses the status quo. We actually need more people like Jack Hickey to protect our interests, and anyone who indirectly generates so much vitriol from incumbents must be doing a good job for the people.


Posted by Jack Hickey, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jan 26, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Kim said "Most unfortunate has been Mr. Hickey's criticism of district board member Arthur Faro, the former CEO of Sequoia Hospital who provided excellent stewardship of the hospital during some of the most tumultuous periods of health care. Mr. Faro is still held in high regard by physicians and nurses alike, an attribute that is admirable and rare in the current corporate health-care culture." Art Faro in an e-mail to fellow directors said:
"Kim, WOW! Excellent rebuttal. Not sure I deserve the accolades, but thank you."
Kim's comment was in response to my original statement which did not appear in my OpEd "The district got out of the hospital business after Art Faro, then CEO of Sequoia Hospital ran up a $29 million deficit."



Posted by Jack Hickey, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Nov 15, 2012 at 10:02 am

My original OpEd was posted in the San Mateo Daily Journal and contained the reference to the $29 million deficit.
Web Link


Posted by Jack Hickey, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Nov 15, 2012 at 10:13 am

I believe this topic, "Letter: Vendetta against Jack Hickey unwarranted" belongs in this thread.
Web Link