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Glusker Censured

At a hurriedly called January 3rd meeting, the Mendocino Coast District Hospital's Board of Directors voted a resolution of censure for one of its members, Dr. Peter Glusker. The closed session gathering lasted a few minutes beyond an hour, resulting in a 4-0 vote for censure, with one abstention (presumably Glusker).

The Wednesday evening meeting was called in response to an email sent by Glusker late in the afternoon of Friday, December 30th. Earlier that day the Executive Assistant at Mendocino Coast District Hospital (MCDH) had emailed an agenda packet for the Board of Directors meeting scheduled to be held on January 5th. The agendas were emailed to a total of sixty people, from Board members to employees of the hospital as well as interested citizens, including folks who write for newspapers.

Apparently alluding to prior closed session items from a December 15th MCDH Board of Directors meeting, Glusker replied to the Executive Assistant, “Closed session agenda does not list the item Mr. Ruprecht [legal counsel to the MCDH Board] said he would report on at this meeting about follow-up on Ellen Hardin's [Chief Human Resources Officer at MCDH] emails and allegations of harassment and possible fraudulent billing problems. I believe the board needs a report at this time on those matters.”

Whether Dr. Glusker intended to send the email to all sixty potential recipients or he thought he was replying only to the Executive Assistant and accidentally clicked send without realizing the email was essentially a “respond all” type is unknown. With or without motivation closed session confidences were apparently breached, prompting the censure vote from MCDH Board Chair Steve Lund, Vice Chair Kitty Bruning as well as new Board members, Dr. Lucas Campos, and Dr. Kevin Miller.

For clarity's sake (Has anyone ever named their child Clarity?) the word censure can be used as a noun or verb. In the sense of a “resolution of censure” it serves as a known meaning a strong or vehement expression of disapproval. In practical terms, a censure is a formal slap on the wrist; other than resignation, only the voters can remove from office someone they have elected. Until proven otherwise, Dr. Glusker's mistake seems to have been pushing the SEND button without pausing to consider whether the message was merely going to the MCDH Executive Assistant or, also, to a much broader list of recipients.

The Special Board meeting was the second of the day for Dr. Campos who chaired his first MCDH Finance Committee get together earlier in the afternoon of January 4th. At that meeting Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Wade Sturgeon emphasized that the potential $ 1.5 million available through a Help II loan, alluded to in the December 21st AVA, will pay for most of the remaining costs of three critical capital maintenance projects, which involve the health, ventilation, and air Conditioning (HVAC) system, operating room sterilization, and an automatic transfer switch (ATS) to flip the hospital to generator power in less than five seconds in case of an emergency caused by loss of electric power.

Questions from the audience and Finance Committee member Kaye Handley brought to light a need to more closely track the profitability, or lack thereof, in four areas, EmCare Holdings Inc. taking over as the provider of physicians for the Emergency Room (ER), a new orthopedic surgeon, pain management procedures, and the immediate care program at MCDH's affiliate North Coast Family Health Center (NCFHC).

Whether or not the issues alluded to by Dr. Glusker's email come to light for the public or remain confidential personnel matters remains to be seen. Any conjecture at this juncture appears inappropriate.

The hospital board's ad hoc committee concentrating on the obstetrics (OB) department held a preliminary meeting last Friday, Dr. Miller chairing. More on this after a followup get together in just two weeks, January 19th.

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