Dr. Dennis Crunk is challenging incumbents Jack Copeland and Lynda Salcide for a seat on the Southern Mono Healthcare District Board this Tuesday.
Crunk appears to be relying on his long-time community roots and medical reputation in the race. Efforts to reach him this week went for naught, as Crunk is currently vacationing in Mexico.
Though Crunk is a contracted physician with the District, this apparent conflict does not prevent him from serving on the Board. In the event he were elected, it would prevent him from participating on issues where he has a direct financial interest.
The Sheet was able to interview the two incumbents this week.
A member of the Southern Mono Healthcare District Board since 1998, Lynda Salcido has seen the ups and downs that have accompanied Mammoth Hospital’s growth over the years. Now running for a fourth term, Salcido believes it is her institutional knowledge, among other things, that continues to make her useful on the Board.
“During my time as a Board member, we’ve taken our small facility and turned it into a larger one with multiple services for the community and visitors,” she said, referring not just to the physical expansion of Mammoth Hospital, but also the expansion of the services offered once patients step inside the doors.
“We’ve been tuning our business model to reflect this new diversity of services, which has been a financial struggle to keep our footing,” Salcido said, in reference to the budget issues and need for layoffs in 2009.
“As a Board member, you only know what you know, but once you are made aware of the problem you must take the action to stay solvent,” she explained. “You must set the policy to adhere to the vision, which is to have a healthy medical establishment. When it was clear what was happening we [the Board] took action quickly.”
Salcido admitted that the layoffs were tough and that it felt bad to let people go who had helped with the success of the hospital over the years.
“Mammoth Hospital is a fabulous organization built on the back of the people who work there,” she said. “Layoffs make people feel devalued and it affects everyone.” This is why one of her goals, if reelected, is to increase the morale of the current hospital employees and make sure they feel like they are being heard.
She believes, however, that having gone through the layoffs in 2009 makes her a stronger candidate.
“You learn to avoid financial pitfalls and how to prepare to stay financially stable.” She agreed that fiscal responsibility would be a constant issue for the hospital and that the Board and employees would have to continue to be financially prudent to continue the services offered.
Another challenge that will be on the hospital’s table according to Salcido will be the upcoming healthcare reform. The affects on medical record requirements, the expansion of healthcare coverage, how the hospital stays healthy during these types of transitions, the constant need for training and staying current in a changing world and the challenge of employing highly trained medical professionals are all issues Salcido is ready to dive into if re-elected.
As the Director of Mono County’s Public Health Department, Salcido feels she is able to bring a public health partnership to the hospital.
“Public health visions get brought to the hospital and vice versa, which help create good collaborative projects,” she said, adding that even if it were not her, someone from the public health department should be represented on the Board due to this type of collaboration.
Overall, Salcido believes she should be re-elected because she “remembers what we did well and not so well, and I would like to continue to do the right things and more things right.”
Copeland has served as a Board member for about seven years.
He feels that the District has adjusted to the terrible economic downturn and that things have stabilized financially.
“I never lose sight that not-for-profit doesn’t mean lose millions of dollars. We have to live within our means.”
He views some of the accomplishments of the Board during his tenure as the successful expansion of the hospital facility, and more recently, the hiring of CEO Gary Boyd and CFO Melanie Van Winkle.
A challenge that lies in the near future is determining what to do with the Hospital’s option on the Church parcel. “In the future, we’re going to need to expand the clinics very soon.”
The question is whether the District can afford to exercise that option now.
Copeland ackmowledged that the challenger, Crunk, is his physician.
Sheet: He knows your secrets.
Copeland (deadpan): I expect a final marketing blitz in this campaign to match the Reid-Angle Senate race in Nevada.