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Coast Hospital CEO Fires The Messenger

On Monday, March 19th, Mendocino Coast District Hospital Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Bob Edwards gave interim Chief Financial Officer (CFO) John Parigi two week's notice. Parigi had only been on the job since December.

At this point in the debacle that is MCDH leadership no one should be surprised to find out that the power to remove a CFO at that institution rests not with the CEO, but the Board of Directors. Part of the bylaws of the MCDH Board reads as follows, “The Board of Directors reserves the sole right to terminate the CFO's employment contract.”

No one should be further taken aback to discover that the hospital's current Board of Directors stood idly by and let CEO Edwards do his thing. The one exception on the MCDH Board was Dr. Peter Glusker. Of course, when the subject of just who was in control of letting the CFO go came up at the March 29th Board meeting, the other Board members sat silent as gagged mice in a crumbling church facade.

Chief among them is Board President Steve Lund, a former school district superintendent, who is apparently afflicted by some sort of administrative co-dependency with Edwards. After all, they are co-defendants in a federal lawsuit that also includes the hospital itself.

Absent from that March 29th meeting was Dr. Lucas Campos. Dr. Campos was also absent from his board member duty as chair of the hospital's Finance Committee meeting on March 27th. He has missed many meetings in the last four months. Often his attendance has literally been phoned in. He is no longer seeing patients at the hospital or its affiliated clinic, North Coast Family Health Center (NCFHC). Until this year Dr. Campos was affiliated with Summit Pain Alliance, but recently his photo and any mention of him has vanished from that company's website. He now appears to have acquired a Nob Hill, San Francisco, address as well as the Fort Bragg address used to establish his residency for purposes of participating on the MCDH Board. A visit to that Fort Bragg residence on March 29th found no one at home and several UPS/FedEx type packages stacked on the doorstep.

Why is this important? If, as all indications point, Campos is no longer going to be part of Coast Hospital and the coastal community, he needs to be replaced. If Campos resigns before July, his spot on the Board of Directors can be placed on the ballot and voted upon by the Mendocino Healthcare District electorate in November. If he delays, and there are those who see his mysterious whereabouts as a deliberate delaying ploy, until after July 1st, then the Board can appoint his successor, thus depriving the voters of the choice. Keep in mind that three of the current MCDH Board seats are up to the voters' discretion in November. The Board, as it is currently made up, is packed with apologists for CEO Edwards.

The firing of Mr. Parigi, by CEO Edwards, appears to be no more than a means by which Edwards hopes to deflect attention from the fact that Parigi uncovered millions and millions of dollars worth of legitimate charges to patients that have, until Mr. Parigi's brief tenure, not been billed for, nor payments collected. In just three months Parigi's small team found over $3 million from previously languishing accounts. The fault for this lies not on any specific employees in the billing and finance departments, but on the fact that the hospital has been operating for years on a three-way jury-rigged electronic system. Thus, coding for a specific patient's charges and the subsequent billing had to go through multiple, yet different, types of computer systems. Therefore, the chances for misplacing or losing charges or the entire bill were exponentially exaggerated at all times.

It's not that Mr. Parigi was the first person to ever figure this out. Remember this from the AVA, over a year ago, on March 1, 2017? “It has come to this writer's attention that by sometime in November both [former] CFO [Wade] Sturgeon and (CEO) Bob Edwards were aware that it would take extra manpower to sift through the backlog of EmCare [Emergency Room providers] billing mess-ups, yet these sorts of positions were not created until January.” My knowledge stemmed from viewing an email sent from within the hospital's finance department to Edwards and then CFO Sturgeon. Expand the ER billing problems throughout the hospital and its clinic, throw in three electronic record systems that don't fully understand each other, and you get a boat load of cash never hauled in.

For at least a year and a half, and most likely much longer, Edwards has ignored potential, permanent fixes in favor of getting rid of hospital employees who dared question him or those who tried to expose what has been going on with the hospital's finances. Mr. Parigi is simply the latest and one of the most egregious examples.

At the March 29th Board meeting, during his CEO report, Edwards rattled off a series of potential correctives to the money-losing situation at MCDH. For those who attended a presentation by Mr. Parigi two days prior, it was obvious that Edwards' spiel on the 29th was derived (that's a polite way of saying “stolen”) from Mr. Parigi's data of March 27th.

At the Board meeting Edwards was called out, by yours truly, for taking Mr. Parigi's information and presenting it as his own. Edwards’ only response was to claim that Mr. Parigi's methods of calculation were not all that original. A member of the audience, Mara Thomas, then asked if that were true, then why hadn't Edwards implemented methods similar to Mr. Parigi's suggestions quite some time ago, thus saving the hospital even more millions.

Edwards was caught up in his own misleading lies on March 29. Two days earlier, Mr. Parigi laid out a straightforward, easy to understand set of data. That came late on an afternoon when only Dr. Glusker and two civilian members of the MCDH Finance Committee showed up at the facility's Redwoods Room for their monthly meeting. Without a quorum, acting committee chair Glusker could not hold an official meeting. However, Mr. Parigi's written financial narrative, along with the numbers and charts to back it up, had already been passed out to audience members as well as the three committee members.

When Dr. Glusker offered Mr. Parigi the chance to verbally annotate his financial narrative, CEO Edwards excused himself.

According to Mr. Parigi, the greatest needs for MCDH right now: Putting in place a coordinated EHR (electronic health records) system. That and at least five more staffers in the business office would help stop those coding and billing errors. Parigi estimated that implementing a new EHR system would pay for itself within a year, simply by tracking down the monies that MCDH is currently missing/losing from its own legitimate bills.

Mr. Parigi's most damning comment came at a different point in his March 27th presentation. “The hospital is lacking intellectual capital at its highest level.” A more direct hit on Edwards couldn't have been delivered by a body slam on the fifty yard line.

At the MCDH Board meeting on March 29, when asked by a community member about the longer term prognosis for the hospital, Parigi answered, “You're failing.”

Pressed about a possible turnaround, Parigi said, “Very difficult, if not impossible.”

Which leads us to the parcel tax measure on the June ballot, which would cost taxpayers $144 per year per parcel (with some exceptions for contiguously owned parcels). At this point it is unreasonable to ask the electorate of the Mendocino Healthcare District to give money to an institution that doesn't have its financial books in order, especially in light of this recent development in which the hospital's CEO fires the CFO who has actually found enough missed billing to equal two years worth of parcel tax money. Let's make that very clear: this hospital is asking for additional tax money from its citizenry when its CEO fires the man who was capable of bringing in twice that amount in a matter of months.

On top of the CEO's misdeeds, we have a majority on the hospital's Board of Directors who have abrogated their right to hire and fire CFOs to an untruthful, bullying, alleged workplace harasser of a CEO.

A prerequisite for any favorable consideration of a parcel tax can only occur after MCDH implements a new EHR system, hires enough additional staff to demonstrate that the hospital can capture a significantly higher percentage of its legitimate charges, AND replaces the current CEO with someone who will guarantee those initial steps to financial stability.

That's going to take a little bit of time. Perhaps the hospital can right its floundering vessel in time to attempt another parcel tax vote in November or early 2019, but as of this spring, with a majority of its Board of Directors living in some sort of ridiculous denial and a thoroughly unethical CEO, anyone voting for this parcel tax in June is making a foolish mistake.

One last note, at some point between March 19th and the Board of Directors meeting on March 29th, according to sources close to the situation, CEO Edwards was given a chance to reconsider and rescind his firing of Mr. Parigi. Edwards declined to do so.


  1. Ed Edwards April 5, 2018

    Great article. It is rare to see such depth and transparency when reading about local health care issues.

  2. Rick Riley April 7, 2018

    A defeat of the MCDH parcel tax measure should be viewed as a referendum on the CEO and his apologists. The scoundrel CEO claims support for his Measure C based on results from “push-polling” — the discreditable tool of the propagandist who reports out results favorable to his position derived from guiding respondents to a false choice. The tax measure must necessarily have much less support than Edwards and Lund can claim.

  3. William VanNoy April 10, 2018

    Malcolm MacDonald reached out to me to get more information on Mr. Parigi as I had the unfortunate history with him as the CFO-elect at Healdsburg. Mr. Parigi is nothing but a cockroach siphoning the lkife out of struggling hospitals like Healdsburg. He comes in and claims WILD and mostly incorrect assertions and then brings in his team of cockroaches to drain the victim hospital of it’s resources.
    I find it funny how Mr. MacDonald sought me out for more information on Parigi, yet in this article he worships the cockroach.
    Mr. Edwards may indeed be a horrible CEO, but he ABSOLUTELY did MCDH a favor in getting rid of Parigi…I assure you!

  4. Malcolm Macdonald Post author | April 10, 2018

    Regarding Mr. Van Noy’s comment: It is true that after his initial comment concerning the former interim CFO and another relatively new employee at MCDH I did contact Mr. Van Noy. However, after pursuing some background checking I have made no further contact attempts.
    Malcolm Macdonald

    • William VanNoy April 11, 2018

      Mr. Macdonald made no further attempts to contact me because I e-mailed him back notifying him I was no longer interested in talking with him. After reading Mr. Macdonald’s coverage of Mendocino Coast District Hospital it became quite clear to me that he, like most reporters who cover hospitals, really have no idea what is “actually” happening there. These reporters only care about gaining subscribers, which unfortunately means they tend to sensationalize much of what they hear thus blowing most issues up far bigger than they really are.
      If Mr. Macdonald and other hospital reporters really care about their hospitals they will listen to those, like me, who have no skin in the game and only want to help hospitals like Mendocino Coast District Hospital by warning them of experiences I personally witnessed.
      All that said, Mr. Parigi’s ouster IS the best thing that could have happened to MCDH. I read his analysis of some of the challenges MCDH was facing and I’m telling you it is very similar to what he did in Healdsburg and other hospitals across the country his organization worked at. He makes WILD allegations and then creates a sense of fear. The he frames himself and his cohorts as the ANSWER to save the hospital which puts him in a place to demand a HUGE compensation package with many perks much like Healdsburg, only Healdsburg was easier because his close friend, Nancy Schmid, who is also employed now by MCDH, brought Parigi and his band of cockroaches to suck the blood out of Healdsburg then move on to MCDH.

    • Derrick May 28, 2018

      It would be nice to know what this “background checking” yielded, instead of leaving your readers hanging on innuendo in lieu of specific facts. That doesn’t really help your case any more than the unprofessional language used by Mr. VanNoy helps his credibility, and you’re both leaving us with unanswered questions.

      That being said, Mr. VanNoy referring to people as cockroaches and then accusing reporters of sensationalizing stories … who is the pot and who is the kettle in this scenario?

  5. Rob May 5, 2018

    Campos got married to my client in January and used her Nob Hill address as they speak of. In March he got up one morning, stole money out her wallet and left leaving behind his passport, clothes and other personal items. She has not been able to contact him since. From what I understand is he got evicted from his Fort Bragg apartment and is possibly living in Chico. Probably scamming another women as he did with my client. In the 3 months they lived together she supported him and he never paid for any bills or rent. What a scum bag.

  6. Whose fooling whom May 8, 2018

    Perhaps a skilled IT hacker who knows what they are doing (recruit from LV hackercon) should be hired for a day.
    Just for kicks to find out how many sneaky snake-like maneuvers related to money sifting and salary padding can be found.
    Seriously. Let us stop pretending its not happening.

  7. Just observing May 8, 2018

    Makes sense, Rob.
    Fits right in with the field of helping in Fort Bragg.
    If anyone had the balls to seriously investigate, more heads would, most likely, be rolling back out of town, right along with Campos.

  8. Had Enough May 9, 2018

    NO on C
    Throwing more money at the incidious crooks will only keep them here longer.

  9. Richard Prothro Hambrick August 3, 2018

    I understand there are several seats on the board open and that there will be a meeting to discuss the ins and outs of running for those positions in the coming election.
    Do I have this right?
    I heard about it on Coast radio. They said the meeting was being held at the hospital on Wednesday Aug 8th in the Redwood Room of the hospital.
    Do I have this right?

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