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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund

Smart Voter
Alameda County, CA November 4, 2014 Election
Candidates Answer Questions on the Issues
Director; City of Alameda Health Care District

The questions were prepared by the League of Women Voters of Alameda and asked of all candidates for this office.     See below for questions on Define Position, Use of Local Parcel Tax Revenues, Informed Community

Click on a name for candidate information.   See also more information about this contest.

? 1. How do you define the responsibilities of this position under the new organizational structure?

Answer from Tracy Jensen:

The affiliation between Alameda Healthcare District and Alameda Health System provides many opportunities for both organizations. The first priority for Alameda Healthcare District (AHCD) Boardmembers must be to ensure the safety of patients and staff. The AHCD board must oversee the immediate seismic repairs that will keep the aging hospital open, safe and accessible. In addition, AHCD must develop a renewable, efficient facility infrastructure as the seismic improvements commence. The AHCD board must also identify opportunities in the partnership with Alameda Health System for more local employment as the hospital census increases and the surgical volume increases. Finally, As an AHCD boardmember I look forward to discussing the options for new services at Alameda Hospital, such as geriatric specialties, obstetrics, and palliative care.

Answer from Jim Meyers:

The role for the City of Alameda Health Care District Board has completely changed in the past year. The Directors no longer oversee the day-to-day operations of the Alameda Hospital. Responsibility has shifted to a different primary role and that is going to necessitate Directors with much different background and experience than currently on the board.

Some context is helpful: The current City of Alameda Health Care District Board of Directors recently entered into a Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) with Alameda Health System (AHS) and that significantly changed the primary role of the District Board. The District Board is no longer responsible for "possession, use and control" and "all necessary management, supervision, and oversight" of the Alameda Hospital. That Joint Powers Agreement has defined our Health Care District's new role as "assuring the health care needs of the community are met." In fact, California law states that Districts who no longer oversee day-to-day operations of a hospital "shall act as an advocate for the community."

I've spent a career doing just this. A career that includes hospital and health system leadership AND identifying and advocating for the health care needs of communities. Both sets of experience critical for success on our District Board.

Bottom line: our District must move from giving oversight to day-to-day hospital operations to successfully advocating for hospital funding needs from our new Alameda Health System owners and, just as importantly, defending funds and needed services from the Alameda County Public Health Department, Alameda Behavioral Health Services Department, Alameda Indigent Health Services Department and Alameda Environmental Health Services Department...all in support of the broader health and well-being needs throughout our community.

My priorities for carrying out these new responsibilities would be:

1. Building a sustainable business model with our new system partners...taking full advantage of the Accountable Care Act...while always being available to our most vulnerable islanders...and keeping our hospital an integral part of our community.

2. Building partnerships across medical staff, support staff and IT infrastructures with the new system partners and with the newest health care provider on the island...the Veterans Administration.

3. Building stronger ties to our island community...including the development of a coordinated hospital, community, business and city/county government strategies for improving community health and well-being. Our Health Care District collects parcel tax dollars and hospital community benefit dollars...let's make sure those dollars provide the most impact on the health of our community.

4. Building permanent solutions to infrastructure and preparedness deficits...our community hospital needs to be there for us when disaster hits.

? 2. How will you ensure that the local parcel tax revenues will be used ONLY for Alameda Hospital building upgrades?

Answer from Jim Meyers:

Our current Board...through the Joint Powers Agreement...only secured agreement to complete seismic upgrades in compliance with State "2013 Seismic Requirements." The Agreement also states that funds for the seismic upgrade come from our parcel tax. Bottom line: the agreement says our parcel tax money goes to the Alameda Health System but there is no guarantee that all necessary building upgrades needed now and in the future will be done beyond these 2013 requirements.

Moving forward, our Health Care District Directors must focus squarely on ensuring parcel tax revenue COLLECTED from our community is USED FOR the health and well-being needs of OUR COMMUNITY. How should this be done? We need experienced leadership in partnering within a larger health system and building and defending funding for a solid, fact-based approach to improving the health and well-being needs of our community. I've spent a career doing both.

As of today, our hospital is now part of a larger health system. It is imperative that our Directors have experience in this new ownership model. I've led a larger health system and I know the goal must be to balance the overall needs of those served with the resources available. Our District Director's job now is to defend the City of Alameda in the allocation of those limited resources.

Worst way to lead on our District Board: let AHS spend our parcel tax dollars on the squeakiest wheel somewhere else in Alameda County.

Best way to lead on our District Board: build great assessments of Alameda's needs and, with solid facts, defend the use of all of our parcel tax funds to address the health and well-being needs of the City of Alameda.

Answer from Tracy Jensen:

As the representative from the Alameda Healthcare District to the Alameda Health System (AHS) board of directors I have a key role in making sure that AHS fulfills the conditions of the Letter of Agreement between our organizations. I will continue to participate in AHS fiscal committees and report back to the Alameda Healthcare District. The Alameda Healthcare District is charged with overseeing the parcel tax, and it will continue to be our role to ensure that the tax is used for the benefit of Alameda residents and not diverted to other AHS programs and services.

? 3. How would you propose to keep the Alameda community informed about hospital issues?

Answer from Tracy Jensen:

I am pleased to be the co-chair of the Alameda Healthcare District's Community Advisory Committee. The Committee is composed of 2 AHCD boardmembers and 12 key stakeholders representing Alameda residents and businesses. This Committee will identify the healthcare needs of Alameda residents, and assess how the new organization is not meeting those needs. In addition, it will be the role of the Community Advisory Committee to obtain feedback from residents about the need for new or expanded healthcare programs, and report to the board about those opportunities.

Answer from Jim Meyers:

In partnership with existing community newspapers, I would lead our Directors in reporting on fact-based, community-led annual priorities for improving the health and well-being needs of our community. I would also advocate for an annual "Healthy Alameda" presentation to residents and the Alameda City Council and Mayor to outline improvements made during the past year and to highlight the continuing needs in our community.

What do I mean by "community-led" annual priorities? Each year, our District must reach out to all of the communities that are the social fabric of Alameda. Input and data would be obtained from city government and businesses - through active participation in programs like "health-in-all-policies" - as well as schools, health agencies, neighborhood "community health" reports, ethnic-based groups, race-based groups, gender-based groups, police, clergy, youth-based groups, age-based groups, sexual-orientation-based groups, and social and service organizations in the city - and all who wish to share a sense of the key health and well-being of ALL of our residents. Priorities for action would be developed by these same participants. The Health Care District Directors would then be - I believe MUST BE - the City of Alameda's advocates for action in addressing these priorities.

In Alameda, our parcel tax is collected to serve the needs of Alamedans. I believe that money should be spent right here in the City of Alameda - in an equitable way - for the improvement of health and well-being for all who live in our community. I believe that the Health Care District Board should be held accountable for how well that is done and be obligated to report on those priorities annually to all Alamedans.

Responses to questions asked of each candidate are reproduced as submitted to the League.  Candidates' statements are presented as submitted. References to opponents are not permitted.

The order of the candidates is random and changes daily. Candidates who did not respond are not listed on this page.

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Created: July 23, 2015 14:55 PDT
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