Town Square

Sequoia Healthcare District subsidy of Nursing Program

Original post made by Jack Hickey, Woodside: Emerald Hills, on Apr 20, 2012

Sequoia Healthcare District has been granting $1,000,000/year since 2004 in subsidies to students enrolled in a Baccalaureate Nursing program established by the District in conjunction with SF State University and CaƱada College.
The target was to enroll 40 nurses each year.

As a Board Member, I suggested that funding should have come from the Nurse's Union, which could then collect repayment from wages just as they collect union dues. This could have avoided the situation where 9 nurses subsidized by the District taxpayers took their newly acquired skills to Palm Springs.

This recent memo from CEO Lee Michelson opens up discussion on the issue:

"As you are aware, we are in year 8 of a 10 year commitment to fund the nursing program at a cost of $1 million per year. As the program is a 2 year academic program, we will need to indicate prior to December if we plan to renew our commitment and if so, for how long."

Lee further opines:

"As I see it, we have many options to consider. One is simply to renew for a period of time. Another is to declare victory and say we have accomplished our goal. A third is to alter our approach to offer a scholarship program and/ or a loan program."

He then adds this:

"Yesterday, Kim and I met with representatives from San Francisco State University and Sequoia Hospital Nursing about an additional or alternative program, modeled on a program now in operation at San Francisco General Hospital. The concept is a simple one. SFSU would bring their curriculum and faculty to the campus of Sequoia Hospital and offer a B.A. in nursing to staff nurses who want to upgrade their education. The hospital would arrange work shifts to accommodate these classes and they would also invite nurses working at SMMC and Kaiser to attend."

Lee provided details:

"The cost to offer this program would run about $30,000 per student or about $15,000 per year. The students/nurses could be expected to pay a portion, other donors could contribute and the District could either offer grants, scholarships or loans. Obviously, the nurses already have the clinical requirements and they have jobs so this program does not add new nurses in to the system, but upgrades skills and therefore improves care. A big component of the education is the requirement that the nurses devote numerous hours in the community, so we could help place them in our schools and the nonprofits that we support."

Mr. Michelson concludes by saying:

"I will keep you update as more information becomes available."

Readers can be assured that I will do likewise.


Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Apr 21, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Jack, Is there anymore information re: "This could have avoided the situation where 9 nurses subsidized by the District taxpayers took their newly acquired skills to Palm Springs."

This is always going to be a challenge for San Mateo County. We educate them with taxpayer money and they leave....

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 21, 2012 at 8:28 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Individual taxpayers should decide if we want to make charitable contributions rather than letting this defunct 'hospital' take our tax money and do with it as they wish.

Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Apr 23, 2012 at 10:13 am

Michael, for the District's spin on the Nursing Program as presented to the Board at it's 1June 2011 meeting, see: Web Link
Information for that meeting, including minutes, is not accessible on the Districts website. Web Link
At the August 3, 2011 meeting, I requested corrections to the minutes:
"With respect to the Nursing Program Status Update under June 1 minutes, Director Hickey said they were incorrect as the program did not meet all its benchmark goals regarding employment of nursing graduates working within the District. Mr. Michelson replied that there is no employment benchmark for the program.
Motion: To approve the June 1 minutes amended to add comment that Director Hickey stated that there should be a benchmark as to the number of student nurses hired within the District.
By: Director Kane
Seconded by: Director Faro
Roll Call Vote: 4-1-0 Director Hickey opposed
Motion Passed"
NOTABLE: From the Draft minutes, it was reported that "One hundred forty-three, nearly 53%, of graduates live and work in San Mateo County." ONLY 53%? What fraction of those work in the District which subsidized their education?

Anyone with the time and inclination to listen to the tapes of these meetings can do so at the District Office. You will hear Art Faro suggesting that no benchmark is necessary.
I have repeatedly requested that those tapes be digitized and made accessible on the District website.

Posted by Eric Saund
a resident of another community
on Apr 23, 2012 at 10:24 am

Wouldn't it be easy to put handcuffs on the funding? To get the money you pledge to work in San Mateo for four years if jobs are available there. Otherwise you are obligated to pay the money back.

Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Apr 23, 2012 at 10:31 am

Initial approval of the Nursing Program is contained in the minutes for the 16 Dec 2003 meeting at: Web Link
In addition to the $1,000,000/year subsidy, there was an initial start-up expense of $650,000.

Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Apr 23, 2012 at 10:58 am

Eric, if the nurses work within the District, the beneficiary would be the hospital for which they work. They should either make the original $25,000 loan (my preference) or assume responsibility for repayment. Ideally, the nurses who are the primary beneficiaries, should pay back the loans. (to the unions)

Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Apr 24, 2012 at 12:47 am

I received from Sequoia Healthcare District CEO Lee Michelson, a paper copy of the "Memorandum of Understanding" (MOU) regarding the Nursing Program. I have requested that it be made available on the District website.

Section 9, paragraph h calls for a review of program status after the 5th class has been admitted, and refers to criteria (aka benchmarks)for keeping the program in effect for the full 10 years. "...and, (iii) the Hospital's employment rate of program graduates is acceptable to SHCD."

An updated review showed that from 2008-2011, only 55 out of ~160 graduates were hired or being considered for hiring by the Hospital. And, as previously reported, only 53% of graduates live and work in San Mateo County.
Is that acceptable? Apparently the majority of the SHCD Board thinks it is.

Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Dec 8, 2012 at 9:55 am

An update is now at: Web Link