Blogging Bayport Alameda

October 5, 2012

You asked, they answered: J. Michael McCormick, Hospital Board candidate

1. Under what circumstances do you think the Healthcare District should be dissolved, and what process would you use to determine whether or not to pursue that course of action.

Alameda Hospital is an ongoing business and has been so for many years. I see change and not closure as a remedy for the times we face. The real question is how to keep the ER open. My understanding is that if an emergency room closes, the county conducts a hearing and issues findings to the state. However, the state has not used this information to keep hospitals open even when the data is dire. I would support legislation to put more teeth into the county’s findings or force the state to consider the option of alternatives to closure. I would support a local ordinance regarding declarations of “essential public services” for ER, trauma and ICU. This is truly the case in Alameda where the nearest emergency room outside of the island is at least a 15-20 minute ride whereas an on island trip to the ER is 5-7 life saving minutes.

2. Explain your understanding of the challenges currently facing the Health Care district.

Over the past four years, I led efforts to enhance quality care and oversee allocation of scarce revenues while protecting the safety net mission the Hospital has provided the community since 1925. My record will show the following committee service: Board Quality Control Committee Member, Board Community Relations Committee Member, Board Management and Finance Committee Chairman, Board Pension Committee Chairman and Board Treasurer. In addition, strong experience in business and politics as well as my family’s long and devoted history in healthcare have provided me the focus needed to face the opportunities and challenges of healthcare expansion in 2014.

My family members included a MD for a father, a RN for a mother and, Wilma Chan, a healthcare policy specialist is my wife. I have been and, continue to be immersed in both long term and everyday healthcare issues. I have earned a Master of Business Administration in Technology Management and, a Master of Arts in American History. While teaching History at Laney and Merritt Colleges, I saw firsthand the difficulties facing people as they try to cope with today’s healthcare crisis. I make my home in Alameda with my wife. We are proud and lucky to be surrounded by our family.

3. How does your experience directly apply to the job of a hospital boardmember?

I support a 5 year sustainability plan that includes dollars/cuts projections needed to produce a viable revenue position by 2020, including the following: employ a strategy to increase daily census, accommodate projected costs associated with servicing seismic debt in regular projections, adapt health care projections for future patient demographics and Kaiser impact, position with an Accountable Care Organization or other partnership to ready hospital for individual insurance mandates and health insurance exchanges, define the status of discussions with both private and public financial partners to date and add what steps will be needed to move discussions toward action, define the players who will make decisions to move toward a new partnership, outline what resources and services in projected dollar amounts we can offer a outline what resources and services we can offer a new partner, outline what collateral dollar value we offer a bonding partner, explore with city attorney a local ordinance defining declarations of “essential public services” and, define the amount of time at each Board meeting that will be used to discuss and develop a sustainability strategy.

4. What are the top three objectives you would would like accomplish if you are elected?

If I am re-elected my top three priorities will be: to keep the hospital open by managing costs, looking for niche opportunities (such as the wound care center and expanded SNF services and a new Orthopedic Department we now offer) and seeking partnerships that maintain our mission, to work with the administration on a plan and revenue stream to meet the state’s seismic requirements. We must maintain fair working conditions and wages for nurses and other staff before increasing salaries and benefits to managers. This is an important election, as there are some in the community who are actively working for the hospital’s closure including a member of the District Board.

5. What issues have you been directly involved in with relation to the hospital? What was the outcome?

The County of Alameda recently contracted with the firm of Kaufman Hall to analyze how hospitals compare to each other in quality of care and cost of care. The City of Alameda Healthcare District today continues to give excellent quality at the lowest cost of any of the many regional hospitals. Committee responsibilities (Management and Finance, Quality Control, and Community Relations) are to regularly see and hear high-level administrator’s monthly reports. Today, finances are most difficult and challenging. We cannot simply increase revenues by increasing sick people, the amount of people needing healthcare services determine that revenue. However, we can expand our services, and we have done so. We have put together three new healthcare services to add to our existing ones. They all are opening: Water’s Edge Nursing Home, the Kate Creedon Wound Care Center, and the new Orthopedic Department are now in place. If they are successful, and we have all the reason to believe that they will be, then the financial pressure on existing services will be lessened and a return to a controlled financial position will be reachable.

The District’s goal should not be to produce high profit at all cost but rather to produce high quality at all cost. According to the Kaufman report, we are producing high quality healthcare. We acted to acquire Stroke Certification this past year and the EMS District again sends emergency stroke victims to the hospital. However, the Board should have been told of the stroke care status before we were informed by the County and had to acquire the Certification. I have pushed for more transparency from healthcare managers to allow the Board to see into their professions with more understanding of what is being observed and reported upon.

6. As an elected official what is your specific role in promoting civic engagement as opposed to staff’s role?

We most recently voted to approve a policy directive that defines the role and responsibilities of the District’s Board of Directors. The policy outlines what the State Joint Commission will soon require as part of its tri-annual accreditation survey. Anticipating the Commission, management will, in addition to this policy, review all administrative policies and procedures. The policy is a logical set of steps to regularly undertake; from strategy to legality, from audits to ethics, from reporting to quality controls, it transparently outlines the District Board’s role and responsibilities.

I believe a working good Board neither totally agrees nor totally disagrees with the efforts and outcomes of management. A volunteer citizen based leadership Board has no business micro managing the healthcare professionals that the Board itself hired to do the everyday work of running a Healthcare District. Each Board Member has a direct fiduciary responsibility to the citizens of Alameda. In addition, the overall strategy we implement must be representative of what the citizens of Alameda will expect in any given role or policy issue. That is simply being responsible to our constituency.

7. Who is funding your campaign and which groups and individuals have endorsed your candidacy?

Funding is from friends and family. Here are my endorsements:

  • California Nurses Association
  • Alameda County Democratic Party
  • City of Alameda Democratic Party
  • Wilma Chan, District 3 Supervisor Alameda County
  • Marie Gilmore, Alameda Mayor
  • Alice Lai Bitker, Supervisor Alameda County, Ret.
  • Rob Bonta, Alameda Vice Mayor
  • Lena Tam, Alameda City Councilwoman
  • Bill Withrow, Peralta Colleges Trustee
  • Jim Oddie, President Alameda Democratic Club
  • Jordan Battani, President Alameda Healthcare District Board
  • Robert Deutsch, Vice President Alameda Healthcare District Board
  • Stewart Chen, Healthcare District Board
  • Honora Murphy, Alameda Activist
  • Ron Silva, Chairman Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  • Richard Hausman, Alameda Activist
  • Audrey Lord Hausman, Alameda Activist
  • Alameda Firefighters

Bonus Question: There are multiple seats available in the races for City Council, the School Board and the Hospital Board. Besides yourself, who will you be voting for in your race and why

The bonus of having a top-notch healthcare consultant of 30 years experience is paramount to carrying out the business plan we have put into action. That is why Alameda citizens should also vote for Jordan Battani.


  1. I gave up! One hundred and eighty, that’s the number of words he coughed up in one sentence in order to not answer the #3 question.

    Can’t these guys just answer the questions simply for us dumb voters?

    Comment by Jack Richard — October 5, 2012 @ 8:37 am

  2. Kind a funny by looking closer there are at least 1/2 dozen peoples with conflict of interest , among them Mr Robert Deutch which allready seat on the Hospital board and do lease or rent a space for His practice , with all due respect you cannot draw an income , seat on the Board that make decision that may affect your income ,
    this incidentally is not restricted to Mr Mc Cormick but everyone involved , it inclosed every single Board Members , we need objectivity .
    Not about Friends and Family .
    All candidates please revise your sponsor list and refund anything which may be a conflict of interest .
    What a novel Idea …..

    Comment by mijoka — October 5, 2012 @ 11:30 am

  3. His answers are just lifted verbatim from his full page campaign handout, which I have. He had no intention of answering Lauren’s questions more specifically. Note: referring to a “new orthopedic department ” is misleading at best. Orthopedics can cover eveything from spine reconstruction to hands & feet. In the middle are the common garden variety hip & knee replacements many of you have. The fact is, spinal surgery used to be done by Kaiser at AH, but is no longer, due to limited facilities. When someone says they offer a category of service, you should pin them down & ask them exactly what they mean. I would like to know what services are liable to be curtailed in the future to save money.

    Comment by vigi — October 5, 2012 @ 11:44 am

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