Thursday, June 16, 2016
Stanislaus grand jury releases annual report
The Stanislaus County civil grand jury says the Del Puerto Health Care District provides quality medical and ambulance services, but is too dependent on local taxes and should delay expansion plans until its budget justifies such growth.
The investigation into complaints about the health care district was part of the grand jury’s annual report, which was released this week.
The grand jury, a watchdog panel, is appointed by the presiding judge of the Superior Court to serve a one-year term. Its recommendations are not legally binding, but officials have 90 days to respond in writing to the findings.
The health care district operates a medical clinic and an ambulance division in Patterson. The clinic offers pediatric and family medical services.
Two complaints about the district were submitted to the grand jury, alleging mismanagement by the district’s board of directors, employee misuse of district credit cards and a district vehicle, an ambulance crew involved in two crashes in one day, inappropriate influence by a board member to establish a clinic in a relative’s business, a conflict of interest by a board member also serving on a malpractice insurance board and the board members’ micromanagement of day-to-day operations.
The grand jury investigation found that most of the allegations either had no merit or had been resolved with new management. The grand jury report indicates the medical clinic and the ambulance have effective management.
District revenue sources included patient fees, private insurance reimbursements, Medicare and Medi-Cal payments. The district’s finances, however, are too reliant on county taxes and Patterson special tax assessments, according to the grand jury report.
The grand jury found that the district’s board is divided, unsure and unclear about the responsibilities of the administrative director. And there is minimal public outreach to explain the district’s mission and to attract qualified board members. During the last election, only one candidate ran for election to the board.
The health care district should consider hiring a part-time chief financial officer, set firm expectations for its administrative director and hire a consultant to provide training for board members on how to work effectively as a team, the grand jurors wrote in their report.
The grand jury’s 93-page annual report also included inspection of county jail facilities and the new coroner’s office, an observation of county election practices, an assessment of the Community Services Agency and a county building study.
June 14, 2016
Bee staff reports