THE GATHERING STORM at Howard Memorial Hospital in Willits, by Ace Barash, MD
We in Mendocino County witness a black cloud blowing over the medical care horizon in our own community. The Northern California Network of Adventist Health has come to Willits and Ukiah, headed by a marketing executive, giving much the same feeling as a snake oil salesman may have done in years past. “The Network” is Adventist Health's new effort to lump together and more actively manage local hospitals in light of coming changes in government funding. This concept represents an added layer of high-salaried, high-spending administrators, who direct us from far away in financially reorganizing our entire enterprise, hoping to making more money by allegedly reducing expenses and attracting more patients. They focus strictly on "the bottom line," as do many other large corporations, with no regard for local relationships formed over many years. They rely heavily on advertising in newsletters, local newspapers, direct mail and billboards to convince local people of the wholesomeness of their intentions while destroying the fabric that has made us who we are. The “Network” concept involves pooling the resources at Howard Memorial Hospital, Ukiah Valley Medical Center, St. Helena Clearlake, St. Helena Napa, and St. Helena Hospital Center for Behavioral Health.
Howard Hospital has always taken care of its own, truly living their motto: “neighbors helping neighbors.” Local people make up the workforce, people who have worked here for many years, as have their families. They have been inspired and proud to work for a local successful enterprise, have been giving their best, even contributing to the new hospital from their paychecks, but now their lives are being thrown into chaos by a corporate entity far away. They wonder how can this be, and why? We have been solidly profitable. Why should they want to squeeze us for more money, or save money for Adventist Health on the backs of employees that may have worked for Howard Hospital for half their lives? This is a hospital that has been at the top of employee satisfaction scores, patient satisfaction scores, physician satisfaction scores, and “culture of teamwork and safety” scores, in addition to being the only hospital in The Network solidly in the black every year.
Morale at Howard Hospital has plummeted in the past year, since this new intention has been “rolled out.” One no longer senses the former optimistic resonance while walking the hallway. Employees are insecure because they fear that their futures are going to change radically and that jobs are going to disappear. The precise nature of what will happen is not clear. That has been part of the problem, not just that there will be change, but that it has been handled so ineptly, with no communication or transparency. At best, some employees will have to commute to Windsor, an hour each way, to do a job not exactly like their current one, at an unknown salary. At worst, they will have no job.
The first announcement of job changes (promised to be just the beginning of many such changes) involves the “revenue cycle” employees, which includes those performing patient financial services and health information management (billing, pre-registration, dictation, medical records). At Howard Hospital this involves about 22 employees. All will have to “reapply” for their jobs, be retrained, and finally go through a “certification” exam. They may then be able to stay at Howard or be eligible for a new position in Windsor. The Network says they may have a bus that will transport the employee to and fro, or may not, or maybe just temporarily. One employee was under the impression that she would be paid $4 an hour less for working in the new position, though that is also not clear. Administration says to stop all the gossiping, but when will there be solid information to take its place? Who can tell us what is really happening, whether local workers will be able to continue to support their families?
This “revenue cycle team” makes up a significant number of hospital workers. In our small-town environment everyone is related to one another somehow, if not by blood or marriage, then as friends, former grade school or high school classmates, or as members of the same bowling teams. It is unknown how many employees will eventually be affected, and the insecurity falls like a pall on the entire workplace, markedly amplifying stress in an already stressful environment. Many people are starting to seek new jobs in an area where jobs are not easy to find. Others begin to think about moving away. The “revenue cycle” shake-up is only the first of "Network" contemplated changes in staff, with other departments also said to be in line for such change.
We are told that this initial phase won't involve many people, but nobody knows who will be included and few people trust the new layer of administration. Many people, including nurses, feel that they also are at risk of being laid off in the future. Needless to say, “The Network” is not a very popular notion at Howard Hospital. From what I have observed, in terms of sloppy execution, poor planning and employee insecurity and resentment, I suspect the situation is very much the same at the other acute care hospitals that make up “The Network.”
It would have made more sense for the corporate executives to collaborate with Howard Memorial Hospital administration, staff, and physicians from the outset and discuss contemplated changes and reasons for change. The very word “network” implies a collaborative process. It might then have been more easily understood and accommodated, or compromises made. Local administration and staff look forward to the new hospital currently being built, and also recognize the need to support the additional resulting debt. “Betrayal” more closely approximates the current experience at Howard Hospital, after years of a trusting and high functioning environment. “Dictatorial” describes the administrative style, from an organization that seems to have very little appreciation of the culture it is destroying, with no regard or respect for local community needs.
(Ace Barash, MD, has been a physician at Howard Memorial Hospital in Willits since 1983. Dr. Barash was named 2012 physician of the year at Howard Memorial.)
DEAR AVA: I am writing seeking help once again and to confirm people's accusations of the fairness with which a person is tried in our county. I believe Ms. Anne Moormon to be a good judge. However, the counsel on both sides of the fence are in cahoots. Let me explain. Ms. Linda Thompson has spent the past year pulling the wool over my family and my eyes, assuring me this case was in the bag. She jeopardized my entire case by not calling witnesses, not arguing a single factor for defense. She also had total lack of fight on my behalf. It was way past pathetic. She spent her efforts convincing my family and I that this was no sweat. They found me guilty on second-degree homicide without a single shred of evidence. The district attorney, Scott McMenomey's tactics were as follows: he had nothing but theories. He called me the shot-caller of the Aryan Brotherhood and said that I had no black or Mexican friends. These are lies. He continuously lied straight-out to the jury and twisted the facts and laws to convince the jury that this guy with tattoos was a cold, calculated murderer — let me remind you, without a shred of evidence. I have a constitutional right to a fair and impartial trial. I also have a constitutional right to effective counsel, not a public defender who trades and deals "one for three" or howev toer they do this. I know by her words that if Scott McMenomey did not win this case he would be fired -- in Linda's own words. And I became a little worried when I was escorted into the courtroom and overheard Linda talking about football and the weekends they would spend together soon. So, Mr. Anderson and everyone who reads this fine newspaper, I have a wife and kids. All I was trying to do was make it home that terrible night last year. If you or anyone you know is a lawyer who may take a victim's case, I beg of you to please help me. I have a lot of evidence. The DA has nothing. It should be illegal that a county official should be allowed to impeach himself and sling a racial jacket and lie straight out about laws and evidence. Ladies and gentlemen I am innocent of murder. I am a father, a son, a brother, with strong family ties who was only trying to make it home that night. Please help me! James Kester 951 Low Gap Road Ukiah, CA 95482
TO THE EDITOR — “Why, Billy?” — I write this to those who care, Billy Norbury, and, as Brittany Norbury’s father and those precious children’s grandfather, it saddens me deeply that I don’t believe you are one who cares at all. Why, Billy? Now that you are of sober mind, can you answer me? One time I remember when I came to visit, the only time you showed you cared about anyone other than yourself was when I gave my granddaughter a little swat for being mouthy and disrespectful to her grandpa. You threatened violence against me then. But it’s all about Billy, isn’t it? You have poisoned your own family to the point that, out of sheer fear of you, they cater to you and enable you constantly. You’ve poisoned your brother, your sister-in-law (once one of my daughter’s best friends), your parents and on and on it goes. When you called to ask if you could marry my daughter, I should have jumped on a plane and spent some time with you. But, no, I relied on the fact that you were the older son from what I thought was one of the strong Christian families in the area. But now they have allowed themselves to be so affected by you they can’t even make eye contact with me! The whole family is sick from your poison. Why, Billy? Not guilty by reason of insanity? No way! This is just lawyerspeak and it took them months to come up with it. If you drank once in a while and this was a rarity, we might say it was the alcohol but, no, you were in your “normal” mind. You are suspicious of every man that even so much as looks at your beautiful wife. I think it was poetic justice that the person who hurried to my daughter’s side when she collapsed in the courtroom was Jamal’s brother! May God bless him for that. And may God bless that family — I can’t even imagine their grief. Okay, so those are the thoughts of a human father and grandfather, Billy. Though it may be humanly impossible, God wants me to forgive you and I will obey Him, otherwise I too become a prisoner. I pray daily for your eternal soul. I have no reason to believe that you have given your heart to Christ but, even now, behind those bars I pray that you will say yes to Him. And, please Billy, please throw yourself on the mercy of the court. If you killed this man, admit it, and throw yourself on God’s mercy and the mercy of the court. Please. — Jim Korver, On a mission in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
COMMENT OF THE DAY from Lost Coast Outpost: “There's an ethical issue that seems to be left out of most conversations regarding "the industry." The sheer volume of product assures even the most skeptical that most leaves the state. So for every dollar the grower makes, organized criminal gangs make five before that tasty bud reaches the hands of the happy American stoner. Or are we to believe that Humboldt growers only sell to clean-cut college frat kids and single moms augmenting their e-Bay income by buying wholesale? While a few billion in weed sales is a drop in the bucket compared to the scarier stuff they peddle, it doesn't seem very responsible to line the pockets of the very cartels who seek to undercut your profit by starting their own grows. Historically, their business model tends to encourage source efficiency, though. Like Amway. My guess is you won't see too many "Think Globally - Act Locally" bumper stickers in Cartegena or Kabul. But one might expect a bit more social conscience from the benevolent groovsters of Humboldt. Legalize it and stop feeding the gangsters. Or settle for your DA-approved 99-plant limit and set up roadside stands for sweet corn and kush. But no, it's all about the money now, isn't it?”
FORMER PG&E PRESIDENT SERVES ON BOARD OF MLPA INITIATIVE FUNDER by Dan Bacher
The Pacific Gas and Electric Company's plan to conduct high energy seismic testing on the Central Coast off the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant has spurred massive opposition by fishermen, Tribal representatives and environmentalists from California, the nation and throughout the world.
Opponents of the recently delayed and downsized plan say the seismic testing by means of high powered air guns will kill large numbers of whales, seals, dolphins, salmon, rockfish and other species.
“The project has been delayed and downsized, but the plan remains dangerous, destructive and unnecessary and threatens Morro Bay Estuary State Marine Reserve, Cambria State Marine Reserve, and to the Northwest, Davidson Seamount,” said Joey Racano of the Stop the Diablo Canyon Seismic Testing Facebook Community. (http://www.facebook.com/StopTheDiabloCanyonSeismicTesting?ref=ts) “There are alternatives to the ‘air cannon’ method PG and E can use that will produce better results and save our marine environment. Demand that they be used."
Racano noted that Dave Potter of the Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors, the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council, the San Simeon Community Services District, and the Morro Bay City Council have all recently voiced their opposition to the seismic testing proposed by Pacific Gas & Electric.
Representatives of the Northern Chumash Tribal Council at the September 24 Fish and Game Commission meeting in Sacramento said they strongly oppose the seismic testing plan – and hadn’t been formally consulted by PG&E, state and federal authorities about the project, as is required by state, federal and international laws.
“We have been here for 18,000 years and you we don't give you permission to take wildlife off our coast,” said Fred Collins, the Northern Chumash Tribal Council Administrator. (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/10/02/18722843.php)
As opposition to the deadly project mushrooms, it is absolutely essential to understand that the reason why PG&E has been able to even entertain the idea of erasing marine life in a state marine reserve off the Central Coast could have something to do with the fact that the former head of PG&E served on the board of the shadowy foundation that funded the alleged “marine protected areas” created under the corrupt Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative.
Gordon S. Smith, the former President and CEO (1997-2006) of the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), serves on the Board of the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation, the controversial foundation that funded the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative. (http://www.resourceslegacyfund.org/pages/a_staff.html)
In an egregious conflict of interest, we have a former President and CEO of the company responsible for a plan to kill marine life in a state marine reserve serving on the board of the foundation that funded the creation of that reserve and other alleged "marine protected areas" under the MLPA Initiative!
Smith joined PG&E in 1970 as a financial analyst and held a number of financial positions in the company, serving as Treasurer as well as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer from 1991-1997. Mr. Smith is a former Director of the California Chamber of Commerce and the Bay Area Council. He also served as a Trustee of the University of San Francisco, a Director of the California Foundation on the Environment and the Economy, and a Trustee of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, according to the foundation's website.
This foundation, along with the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and David and Lucile Packard Foundation, is also notorious for funding studies by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) promoting the construction of a peripheral canal or tunnel to export more Delta water to corporate agribusiness and southern California. The construction of the tunnel is likely to hasten the extinction of Central Valley Chinook salmon, steelhead, Delta smelt, longfin smelt and other species.
It is a fact that Gordon Smith and his cohorts on the board of the Resources Legacy Foundation, along with Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, and other corporate operatives on the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force, went out of their way to make sure that the alleged "marine protected areas" fail to protect the ocean from seismic testing, military testing, pollution, wind and wave energy projects, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts on the ocean other than sustainable fishing and gathering. (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/08/22/18720056.php)
NRC analysis reveals absurdity of seismic testing plan
The absurdity of PG&E's seismic testing plan was revealed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s latest analysis of faults near the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in California. The analysis "continues to conclude the plant’s design would withstand earthquakes near the site," according to a statement from the NRC. (http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1228/ML12286A313.pdf)
The NRC’s work is laid out in Research Information Letter (RIL) 12-01, “Confirmatory Analysis Of Seismic Hazard At The Diablo Canyon Power Plant From The Shoreline Fault Zone.” The RIL, part of the ongoing effort to better understand earthquake sources near Diablo Canyon, focuses on the latest identified source, the “Shoreline fault” about a kilometer offshore from the plant. The letter will be available in the NRC’s electronic document database, ADAMS, by entering “ML121230035” in the ADAMS search engine.
"Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), which operates the plant 12 miles southwest of San Luis Obispo, Calif., first notified the NRC in November 2008 about the Shoreline fault. PG&E updated that information in early 2011, and a team of NRC staff visited the site in October 2011," according to the NRC. "Based on the available information and the site visit, the NRC team analyzed ground motion from earthquakes the Shoreline fault could potentially generate. All of those ground motions fell within Diablo Canyon’s existing design limits, which are based on ground motion associated with an earthquake from the larger Hosgri fault near the plant."
The NRC said Diablo Canyon must still carry out additional earthquake evaluations, as well as a “walkdown” to identify any near-term actions for enhancing earthquake resistance. These measures are included in the NRC’s recent information request to all U.S. nuclear power plants as the agency implements lessons learned from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear accident.
If the NRC analysis "continues to conclude the plant’s design would withstand earthquakes near the site," why is PG&E still going ahead with its seismic testing plan?
STDCST Action Alert!
Out of Washington DC, Greenpeace has gathered some 70,000 letters and signatures against seismic testing, and is directing the campaign to stop the testing toward the California Coastal Commission, who will vote on it in Santa Monica, November 14th, and to California Governor Jerry Brown. These are the two offices that can stop testing cold. Please take a minute to contact Governor Brown!
At this time, the Stop the Diablo Canyon Seismic Testing Facebook family should direct their collective voice at the NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission). Here’s the E mail address:
Thank you for your efforts in examining the safety levels of Diablo Nuclear Plant and the subterranean geologic formations around it. Now that you have determined that the newly discovered Shoreline Fault poses no threat to the power plant, I respectfully urge you to cancel the seismic testing proposed for the Central Coast of California. There is not much to be gained by such tests, and our Marine Protected Areas, ocean based economy and marine life are all just too precious to lose.
The tremendous risk to marine life by seismic testing exposed!
While the seismic testing is clearly not necessary, the tremendous danger it presents to whales, dolphins and other marine life is starkly revealed on page 121 of the "Central Coastal California Seismic Imaging Project Environmental Assessment" under Section 4.12.5, Potential Numbers of 'Takes by Harassment.' (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/09/17/18721842.php) Federal officials estimate a total of 2,830 whales, dolphins and seals of 25 different species will be "harassed."
The worst case scenario (including a 25% contingency) of “take by harassment” includes 1 Minke Whale, 2 Sperm Whales, 5 Dwarf Sperm Whales, 15 Blue Whales, 97 California Gray Whales, 25 Fin Whales, 13 Humpback Whales, 1 Short-Finned Pilot Whale, 3 Baird’s Beak, 7 Killer Whales, 8 Striped Dolphins, 8 Small Beaked Whales, 81 Dall’s Porpoise, 82 Long-Beaked Dolphins, 98 Risso’s Dolphins, 114 Northern Right Whale Dolphins, 198 Pacific White-Sided Dolphins, 1,652 Bottlenose Dolphins, 1,834 Short-Beaked Dolphins, 76 Harbor Seals, 1,062 California Sea Lions and 1,485 Southern Sea Otters.
This scenario also includes untold sea turtles of several varieties, numerous fish and bird species and the next generation sea life including nearly 4 million larva of all types, according to Julie Tacker, San Luis Obispo activist and former LOSCD director. (http://calcoastnews.com/2012/08/the-gory-details-of-diablos-seismic-testing)
SOROPTIMIST INTERNATIONAL OF FORT BRAGG Violet Richardson Award The Soroptimist International of Fort Bragg are seeking applicants for its recognition program targeted to young women who make the community and the world a better place. The Violet Richardson Award honors young women, between the ages of 14 to 17 for their volunteer action such as fighting drugs, crime and violence; cleaning up the environment; and working to end discrimination and poverty. An award will be presented to the winner at a special ceremony on April 28, 2013. Applicants for the award are available at the Fort Bragg High School, Hospital Auxiliary, Project Sanctuary, by contacting Maribeth White at 707-962-0200 or stop by at 131 E. Redwood St. Fort Bragg. Application may also downloaded from the Soroptimist website soroptimistfortbraggca.org, click "awards" and download the nomination form. All application must be return to – Soroptimist International of Fort Bragg, P.O. Box 131, Fort Bragg, CA. 95437 no later than December 1, 2012.