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The Hospital District that won’t die

Original post made by Jack Hickey, Woodside: Emerald Hills, on Oct 25, 2011

The Sequoia Hospital District (a.k.a. Sequoia Healthcare District) built, owned and operated Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City until it was sold in 1996. The District is now engaged in frantic activities to justify it’s continued existence.

Creation of Sequoia Hospital District
In 1946, petitions were circulated for the purpose of establishing a local hospital in Southern San Mateo County. An election was called and voters approved the creation of Sequoia Hospital District as the vehicle. District boundaries were identical to Sequoia High School District at the time. It was understood that there would be future bond issues to build and add to it. Property taxes were assessed by the County Board of Supervisors and the hospital was built. It opened in 1950.

Sale of Sequoia Hospital
The District got out of the hospital business after Art Faro, then CEO of Sequoia Hospital ran up a $29,000,000 deficit. That led to a voter approved bailout sale of the hospital in 1996 (Measure H), with “white knight“ Catholic Healthcare West (CHW) buying the right to take over hospital operations. CHW assumed responsibility for debt repayment and pension plan funding.
The Board of Directors at that time sought to change the purpose of the District, which no longer owned a hospital, to include powers provided in recent Healthcare District Law. Without an election as provided for by that Law, Sequoia Hospital District “morphed” into Sequoia Healthcare District and began engaging in philanthropic activity. Property taxes continue to be collected.

Grand Jury Questions Sequoia Healthcare District’s Use of Tax Revenue
The 2001 Grand Jury reviewed the District’s newly assumed role.
Their recommendation:
"The Sequoia Healthcare District should reduce property taxes for district taxpayers unless in a future election district voters approve expenditures for purposes not approved by district voters in the 1946 measure establishing the district or in 1996 Measure H.”
The 2002 Grand Jury found: “…since the sale of the hospital the District has assumed a role similar to that of a philanthropic foundation. This is a function of the District that was never presented to the voters for their approval under 1996 Measure H.”

Jack Hickey Elected to Sequoia Healthcare District’s Board of Directors
In November of 2002, I was elected to the Sequoia Healthcare District Board of Directors on a platform based upon the Jury's findings. I was denied a seat on the Sequoia Health Services (SHS) Board intended to provide a taxpayer oversight function for hospital operations.
In February 2003, SHS and the District were on a fast track to demolish Sequoia Hospital and rebuild down by Highway 101. My referendum petitioning effort derailed that move, and a seismically sound major upgrade to Sequoia Hospital on the Whipple/Alameda site was agreed upon. Funding came from CHW, the Sequoia Hospital Foundation and the District. In 2007, CHW assumed complete ownership of the Sequoia Hospital campus, including the Medical Office Building, with the District becoming a shareholder via an EBIDA profit sharing arrangement.

How the District spends your tax dollars
The District employs a CEO and executive assistant with payroll costs > $250,000/year. Two standalone programs with Directors and staff add >$200,000/year. These programs are:

1. HeartSafe: distributes Automated Electronic Defibrillators (AED‘s). While other States have mandated AED’s for all schools on a state level California has only mandated them for privately owned Health Studios. This program is not a proper function of the District. Former Atherton Chief of Police, Glenn Nielson, was chosen as project manager.

2. Healthy Schools Initiative ($4.5 Million over 3 years) - subsidizes school district programs. School districts don’t need District program managers and staff to tell them how to use the money.

They have increased their pseudo-philanthropy and launched PR “branding” activities costing more than $100,000/year.
The District grants $1.35 Million/yr to a health insurance program (which supports abortion on demand) for children with family incomes approaching 5 figures!
With tax dollars, they corrupt charitable organizations otherwise funded by voluntary contributions. Examples: St. Anthony de Padua Dining Room ($100,000) and Mission Hospice and Home Care ($35,000).
The District continues to support CHW owned hospital through grants to the Sequoia Hospital Foundation.
They provide $1 Million/year to subsidize 40 nurses enrolled in a Baccalaureate Nursing Program with no payback or “employment within the District” requirements! Nine nurses recently found employment in Palm Springs. The Nurse’s Union should fund this program

The Sequoia Healthcare District should be dissolved, with tax revenues dispersed among the public entities within the District boundaries.

Comments (4)

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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Oct 31, 2011 at 8:36 pm

"The Hospital district that won't die" was published as an OpEd in the San Mateo Daily Journal. Here is an OpEd in rebuttal from Kim Griffin, President of the Sequoia Healthcare District Board of Directors on which I serve. Web Link: Fact vs. fiction&eddate=10/29/2011 03:48:00

Here is my LTE in response to Kim Griffin:

Editor, 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 “ 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

Like this comment
Posted by Louise
a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 31, 2011 at 11:33 pm

Hey Jack Hickey--were you ever able to get hold of the S.H. District's financials?
I remember that last year you were having a lot of trouble getting access to the books--
Thank you Jack for paying attention when so few others ever do.

Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Nov 2, 2011 at 11:18 am

Louise, I receive monthly e-mails with check register and cashflow files in eXCel format. See: Web Link for the last four months.
I can get invoices upon request, but those requests must go through Kim Griffin. Staff has been instructed not to respond to my requests for financial information.

Like this comment
Posted by At bat
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jul 14, 2012 at 12:09 pm

So, the funding for school kids health is not important, what kind of nut is this? Does he even understand the schools would never have money to do this. Instead of standing on the sidelines, he should thank the health district.

One of common sene, may also think heart safe was a god idea. Has it saved lives? Yes....put a price on that.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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