Supervisor Gordon to hold Medical Center town hall meeting in HMB, Monday

Breaking news

Posted by on Fri, March 20, 2009

Supervisor Rich Gordon will hold a town hall meeting to discuss the closure of Coastside Family Medical Center on Monday, March 23 at 7pm in the Cunha Intermediate School Multipurpose Room.

Gordon promises "a frank discussion of the issues surrounding the closure and ... information regarding options." He also says he will "work toward finding solutions that provide assistance in this difficult time."

Health Plan of San Mateo staff will be at CFMC on Monday to answer additional questions for their members.


It will be interesting to hear what good ol’ Rich Gordon has to say. I’m not his biggest fan, as many here know. Still, the CFMC closure/bankruptcy is one of the biggest new stories in recent memory, aside from Beachwood.

I’m a bit surprised that there hasn’t been any editorial comment from Coastsider on this huge story, but perhaps one is forthcoming.

Meanwhile, over at the Review, there has been a deliberate attempt to sweep the whole ugly mess under the rug. I posted a topic on TalkAbout titled “Review Fails to Hold CFMC Board of Directors Accountable for Closure Fiasco.” Not surprisingly, Review editor Clay Lambert closed off the discussion less than 24 hours later, just when things started to get interesting. So much for free speech in the year 2009.

The TalkAbout comment that appeared to hit too close to home for Clay is reproduced below in quotes. The author (not me) summarizes the unattractive truth behind the CFMC closure/bankruptcy far better than I ever could. Maybe Rich Gordon could address this issue on Monday night, but don’t count on it.

Typos have been corrected in some places:

“...I would describe what happened at CFMC as “Corporate Welfare.” Did you know [that] under the stewardship of the HMB Chamber of Commerce president Charise McHugh and some of her fellow “gated community” social and political climbing board members, they have been able to supply their members of the C of C with free medical help for some of their less skilled workers who they chose not to insure under their company health plan?

I have discussed this abuse of our clinic by local companies with different management teams that have been running CFMC and they have all agreed with me that this practice of supplying local companies with free medical attention would eventually push CFMC into bankruptcy.

Now that has happened [from] all the local restaurants, hotel, motel, growers, retail, service industries, real estate industries, construction companies, painting companies, flooring companies, gardening companies, plumbing companies, termite companies, [and] roofing companies.

And now the big question is: what are these employees of local businesses and their families going to do when then they get sick or injured? Will these companies put these lower paid uninsured workers on the same HMO or PPO plan that they and their more-skilled and licensed employees have been enrolled in? The answer is simply no. These employers profited during an economic up-turn from letting the corporations over the hill, plus Stanford and Mills [Peninsula] pick-up the tab for their uninsured workers’ and families’ free health coverage.

My question is what is going to happen to these local low-man-and-woman-on-the-totem-pole workers who built their lives around the predication they would continue to receive corporate welfare? What are their doctors and employers going to do for them or their kids next time they have a small medical emergency? What do you tell your kids when they look at you and say Mama-Dada-iys-sick?

This week I spent time around the Clinic I watched the look of disbelief in the faces of many of the people I recognize as being employees of local businesses as they came to see the (new) American dream of something for nothing disappears before their eyes. Do I blame these uninsured workers? No. They were informed by their employers as to where to go if they get hurt on the job or if their family gets sick. Many where told by the clinic that they would be required to pay to see a doctor based on a sliding scale. Was it their fault that the clinic decided not to ask them for this token contribution? Was it the clinic’s fault that they took such good care of these uninsured non-paying people for years that these people came to get lulled into a false sense of security?

No. The fault lies squarely on the shoulders of the CFMC board who allowed CFMC to be used as a political pawn in the game of growth [versus] no growth politics. The message put out by the majority of the board to the Coastside business community was: We support your business interests by giving your workers free medical care. Therefore, you should support the clinic/board of directors and the chamber, who [in turn] support the idea that a pro-growth [HMB City] Council is the way to maintain economic prosperity.

[Now], not only are the uninsured without doctors, the insured are also scrambling to find a doctor. CFMC was a busy clinic. Over a period of sixteen years, it went from one day to three weeks to see certain doctors. If people think the five independent doctors on the Coastside are going to absorb the thousands of people treated by the 35-person CFMC staff, they have another thing coming.

We need federal help untangling this political web before someone dies from lack of medical attention. There probably is a [legal] case for medical abandonment. [It’s] not the fault of the doctors that we were given no warning. It’s all about the [CFMC] board.

It’s also interesting to see how our local newspaper [the Review] kept out of all this for so long. We wouldn’t want to upset all their advertisers (the same ones I made reference to above). You know the same business who are members of the chamber.

[signed] the sick and woman and children last, a resident of Half Moon Bay”

Again, the above comment (denoted by quotes) is authored by a long-time HMB resident who obviously has given the issue much thought. But this is not what Clay Lambert wants you to hear.

Not being a regular Talkabout reader, I haven’t followed the ins and outs of threads over there, let alone the stuff that Clay takes down. Clay has his hands full riding herd on that angry mob he has cultivated.

The rules here are that you need to be courteous and civil, tell the truth, and sign your own name.

Kevin, your post is skirting the edge because you’re reposting an anonymous comment under your own name. I don’t want to see this become a regular practice, but I’m going to allow it because you’re posting under your name, and it raises some interesting issues and otherwise meets our guidelines.

Of course, the board is responsible for what happened. That’s why they’re on the board. But we should keep in mind that the board has kept the center open for years under difficult circumstances. It’s entirely possible that they simply reached the limits of their resources.

Surely the closure could have been handled better. It could hardly have been handled any worse.

But do we have any evidence, other than speculation, that the board failed to do their best to keep the center open?

Barry,

Two points you seem to have missed:

<ol>
<li>The disgraceful handling of the closure by the board is the news story—it demonstrates gross negligence and incompetence by people who were in a position of trust.</li>
<li>The board did keep the center going for years in a booming economy despite a fatally flawed business model. Unfortunately, the public was never made aware that one of board’s main goals was to have the insured patients subsidize free health care for the 40 percent of patients who had no medical insurance.</li>
</ol>

Now the flawed business model has caused the center to close for good. Again, a case can be made for the board’s negligence and incompetence for operating the center on a flawed business model. Aren’t these directors supposed to be smart business people?

hello

I’d like to discuss Rich Gordon

btw: I see that he has noticed his intention to run for the state assembly for RwC south - ? 21st ?  district . 

I heard the comment that the county had not supported the CFMC.  this raises this question:
?have we Coastsiders been getting our fair share of county allocations to healthcare = relative to those oth
? what is the county’s plan (the infamous Plan B )  ? 
? any truth to the street talk about the CFMC board and the pro growth crowd? 

Additionally, should there be time in this Coastside meeting, I would like to ask - relative to the HMB financial meltdown:
? what are you (county) going to do when they (oops WE)  declare bankruptcy?  Bktcy will have a decided effect on the city and those residents of the north - and south ? whatareyagonnado?

?What conversations have you had with them/ us (hmb or hmbcc) ?  - what when who where why ?
? what is the law -? - the county becomes the ‘last resort” ?
? aren’t you concerned:  this is a $8M/yr city with a $20M+ obligation? 
? how is this different from redwood shores or Middlefield road ? - 
  -  what if this happened on your side oth ?
? what contingency plans have you ( dpw, planning, sheriff,  ... ) ?
? as a taxpayer yourself, what is your opinion ... ? should we - hmb - pay the chopster BEFORE we declare Bankruptcy - or finance a bunch of bonds and THEN go Bktcy ? 

hope all is well
see you Monday

peace

Jim, the county released a statement:

As part of this, San Mateo County – and by that we mean all San Mateo County taxpayers – have paid the monthly $23,450 rent for the Coastside Family Medical Center since last August. That amounts to well over $150,000 in taxpayer assistance.

We have worked closely with Coastside Family Medical Center to help them develop a successful financial strategy to overcome their budget shortfalls. Within the last month, Coastside presented us with a proposal that asked for an additional $300,000 in taxpayer funds – in addition to the monthly rent payments. We could not in good conscience risk $300,000 of taxpayer funds based on the business plan presented.

The rest of it is here: 

<https://coastsider.com/index.php/site/news/letter_countys_statement_on_medical_center_closure/090318>

I don’t know if they did all they could do, but it does appear they were trying.

Jim,
That’s a lot of questions. I don’t think anybody has all the answers, but your last question is the most important—-and this relates to the medical center issue of sustainability (discussed below). If HMB will be forced to declare bankruptcy within say 3 years (and I think that’s optimistic) then it’s better to do it before handing $18 million in cash to Keenan. But the Old Guard City Council won’t hear of it, because their job, as they see it, is to hand over $18 million in cash to Keenan.

Barry, Amplifying on point # 2 above:

I think we can all agree that the medical center is (was) a community resource. Right? As stewards of that resource, the CFMC board of directors had a fiduciary duty to operate the center in a sustainable manner. They did not do that, and so now the community resource is gone.

The magnitude of the board’s screw-up could not be any worse. They are filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy—which is liquidation.

Plenty of businesses file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy where they continue to operate while restructuring their financial obligations. Airlines do it all the time.

Instead, what we have with CFMC’s Chapter 7 filing is the financial equivalent of blowing up the building. Don’t you think the board of directors should be held accountable for this?

All - The closure of the clinic has hurt everyone:  those who supported the clinic through donations, those of us who saw doctors at the clinic and now have a medical records/care issue, and those of us who were vendors to the clinic and are now left with receivables unpaid.

One thing that has been spurred up in these discussions is “business owners” and “chamber members” who allegedly used the clinic to get free healthcare for workers.

My husband and I are business owners.  We provide benefits to our employees at great cost because we want them to have proper coverage.  All of our employees are working in this country legally and have the proper paperwork on file in our offices.  Our business is a member of the Chamber and supports our local economy in part through that membership.

Before you paint “all local businesses” with a flaming bad brush of rude allegations, please consider your words.  It is insulting to us and to our employees.

Terri:

The quote from the long-time HMB resident on Talkabout was this:

“..Now that has happened [from] all the local restaurants, hotel, motel, growers, retail, service industries, real estate industries, construction companies, painting companies, flooring companies, gardening companies, plumbing companies, termite companies, [and] roofing companies..”

I’m pretty sure he intended “all” to mean “the many.” The center had 26,000 patient visits per year and 40 percent of those visits were uninsured, So many of those 40 percent were likely working somewhere on the Coastside.