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

Posted 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."

I was part of the Sequoia Health Care system for 30 years when I lived in Redwood City, and it was excellent.  This would be a great solution for everyone who lost their Coastside Family Medical Clinic coverage.

“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 presence of the Elephant Flight Training Center at the airport is no indication pigs will also be flying around here.

A self-imposed parcel tax to provide free health care to 40 percent of the Coastside clinic’s patients? Put me down for no on that one.

Well, o.k., I wasn’t looking at the price for it, just commented on the services. Their asking price & conditions are too high; folks are taxed to death as it is.  Guess the story is just another dangling carrot - that this horse was ready to eat!

I don’t believe the hangup for most people is the need for a clinic. Given the pain the closure of the last one is causing many people who depended on it, it is pretty obvious something like that is of great value. And Sequoia has a good reputation, though I would wonder about their Catholic affiliation and the availability of a full array of reproductive services in light of that.

The problem comes with the parcel tax solution to paying for a big chunk of it. Surely that is not the only possible way to go? I don’t know the principals, but I’ll bet Grant Weiss and others are thinking about multiple possible kinds of funding for a clinic replacement.

Actually, I do know of an area up north in one of the most anti-tax, right-wing areas in our state that voted a parcel tax for health care on itself to pay for the small local hospital. But in that instance, an entire somewhat isolated valley larger than San Mateo County with a population of less than 2,000 has only that one doctor, hospital, old folks home, and attendant personnel, facilities, and emergency services. Because everyone is in the same boat, the situation is much more obvious than ours with regard to getting a supermajority to vote for a parcel tax. Here there would be nothing in the clinic for many voters.

And let’s not forget the potential candidate for county supervisor on the Sequoia board. He would be running against a candidate from one of our midcoast communities. Could he be angling for some coastside cred?