Sequoia offers possibility of care on Coastside; CFMC records still in limbo

By on Wed, July 1, 2009

Medical care on the Coastside is still a mess and it’s going to get better soon for anyone. The Sequoia Healthcare District says that if the Coastside agrees to be annexed, there would be money available for medical care in the community. Meanwhile, the records of our bankrupt clinic are tied up in the clinic’s bankruptcy. There’s lots of good detail in this story by Julia Scott and it’s recommended reading.

Under the proposal, which is still very tentative, two-thirds of voters from Montara to the Santa Cruz County line would have to approve both the annexation and a new parcel tax to fund the clinic or other projects the community would choose. The Coastside would then become eligible for generous program grants from the Sequoia Healthcare District, which is flush with cash from a profit-sharing agreement with Catholic Healthcare West, which operates Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City.

The health care district will make $8.5 million in grants this year to clinics and nonprofit programs on the Bayside and has $22 million in reserves, according to [Sequoia board member Don] Horsley. A parcel tax is a "stable and predictable" source of funding, as opposed to a sales tax increase, he said.

The proposal would take two years before delivering healthcare on the Coastside. And there is the question of control. The district’s board would control its budget.

Meanwhile, the records of the former Coastside Family Medical Clinic continue to be out of the reach of its former patients.

The records are under the care of a court-appointed trustee, who is responsible for keeping the records safe until they can be distributed. The responsibility for distributing them falls to the Coastside Family Medical Center and its former board members, who do not appear to have a plan — or the resources — to do so. ...

"That is an affirmative duty for which the debtor and its principals may be held liable to the extent they have breached that duty," the motion [by the bankruptcy attorney] says, suggesting that former clinic patients who suffer harm as a result of being denied their medical records could sue. ...

[CFMC board member Charise] McHugh would not comment on whether the former board of the Coastside Family Medical Center has a plan to distribute the remaining records at this time.

"I will just say that there is nothing more important to any of the board members than the clinic and those patients," she said. "You just have to trust us."