Archive for March, 2012

Serving Those Who Serve – A Celebration of National Doctors Day
—Posted Friday, March 30th, 2012 at 3:49 pm— « »

This morning it was my pleasure to join other hospital staff as we served breakfast to our physician staff in observance of National Doctors Day. It was a small gesture delivered with lots of love and appreciation.

We had over 25 of our medical staff come to the breakfast. They were treated to a sit-down (full service like a restaurant- they really appreciated that!) breakfast: Eggs Benedict or Eggs Florentine or bacon and eggs; home-style seasoned potatoes;  fresh fruit; homemade granola with yogurt; homemade apricot or blueberry muffins; fresh squeezed orange juice & Thanksgiving coffee.

MCDH also thanked them with embroidered Medical Staff Polo shirts; Winesong! coffee mugs filled with chocolates and a nice thank you note from the Foundation.

Peaceful music performed by Janie Rezner- she sang and played her hand-made Ocarina.

It was a very nice way to express our appreciation for all the dedication and hard work of our medical staff.

These dedicated men and women are highly qualified physicians who have chosen to live in our wonderful rural community and practice medicine. They’re working every day to keep us healthy, and for this we are extremely grateful.

Of course we shouldn’t wait for National Doctors Day to say “Thank You.” It’s a sentiment I think about every day, and try to express often. Consider sending your doctor a note once in awhile, letting her or him know how much you appreciate their care. Or tell them in person at the end of your next visit. Like all of us, they appreciate an occasional “warm fuzzy.”

My City Council Statement About The Hospital’s Financial Improvement Plan and Part-Time Employees Misinterpreted
—Posted Tuesday, March 27th, 2012 at 6:50 pm— « »

Last night, I appeared briefly before the Fort Bragg City Council to discuss the hospital’s financial problems and how we are coping. I had been invited by Council Member Meg Courtney. The Council members and Mayor Dave Turner were very supportive in their comments.

Most of my short presentation focused on the great people who work here at the hospital and the great service they provide to the community.

I also mentioned that one of the actions we are considering — and this has been public for several weeks — is the possibility of eliminating some — not all — part-time positions to reduce costs.

If you tuned into KOZT this morning, you heard reporter Joe Regelski tell listeners that I told the City Council the hospital was going to eliminate “some” part-time positions. However, employees who heard the morning news heard it as “all” part-time employees would be eliminated. This is not true and it is an unfortunate illustration of how things get blown out of proportion, causing rumors.

After the report, personnel received a flood of calls from panicked part-time employees worried about their jobs.

I am sorry this happened because the current situation is stressful enough on employees and the community. It is also why I am writing regular updates in my blog so that employees, patients and others in the community understand exactly what is happening.

Remember, If you have a question about these or other hospital-related matters, email me directly at

Union – Management Meeting Update

During a March 22 meeting, the hospital presented the employee union with financial projections for the next few months and for the new fiscal year beginning July 1. The union responded today by saying they will have their own analyst review the hospital’s projections before responding to the hospital’s Financial Improvement Plan. We view this as positive progress.

Financial Update to the City of Fort Bragg Council Tonight (Monday, 3/26)
—Posted Monday, March 26th, 2012 at 6:14 pm— « »

As you know, we met March 22 with representatives of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), the union that represents all hospital employees, to discuss hospital finances and how we might work together on implementing a Financial Improvement Plan. As of 5pm, we haven’t heard a response from the union, but expect it tomorrow or the next day.

In the meantime, I’m addressing the Fort Bragg City Council tonight to tell them where we are in our overall Financial Improvement Plan process.

I am attending the meeting at the invitation of Council Member Meg Courtney. I recently met with Meg and other community leaders to discuss the hospital’s financial situation and she felt that a presentation to the Council would be most welcome.

Based on my past experiences with the Council, I expect a warm reception.

For those interested in reading about our financial situation, click here to learn about the causes and our blueprint for improving it.

Financial Improvement Plan Update: Meeting Today with UFCW
—Posted Wednesday, March 21st, 2012 at 10:59 am— « »

As I reported in recent employee meetings, senior management will meet at 2pm Thursday, March 22, with representatives of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), the union that represents all hospital employees.

The purpose of this meeting with labor officials (the second in the past month) is to determine how we might work together to improve the financial health of the hospital. We value our partnership with the union and appreciate the fact that they have given us the opportunity to update them on managements financial improvement plan.

Although it is always my goal to be transparent with our staff and with the public, union negotiations of this type are protected by law for privacy.  This ensures that negotiations can occur between authorized representatives of each side without fear of distribution of misinformation and rumors that can negatively affect the integrity of the process.

It is my hope that as soon as possible, both sides will be able to report publicly the outcome of these meetings.

In the weeks and months ahead, I pledge to communicate more frequently with all of you so we can minimize the uncertainty that comes with discussion about cutting costs and reorganization.

In the meantime, if you have a question for me to discuss in my blog, please send it to me directly at

MCDH Food Services Department Takes First Place in Chowder Tasting
—Posted Monday, March 19th, 2012 at 7:34 pm— « »

Chef Daniel Segura

Chef Daniel Segura

Congratulations to the MCDH Food Services Department for taking First Place in Saturday’s Chowder Tasting Competition, which was a part of the 2012 Fort Bragg Whale Festival.  The winning Clam Chowder was a Sweet Potato Clam Chowder prepared by Chef Daniel Segura with help from Shonda Sanders.  Thank you Daniel and Shonda for your representation of MCDH.  Who would have thought that a hospital would win first place in a competition involving all of the excellent restaurants in our area!

MCDH Maintains High Quality Standards During Challenging Financial Times
—Posted Monday, March 12th, 2012 at 8:10 pm— « »

During this time of navigating Mendocino Coast District Hospital through challenging financial waters, it is important to remember that the quality that our hospital has become known for, is still our number one priority.

Every change that has been made, or been contemplated, is carefully weighed according to how MCDH can best be a champion for the lives that depend upon us for their medical care and their health every single day.  Our resources are not unlimited, so we must choose wisely as we decide how to best spend the precious resources that are available to us.  It is a task that we do not take lightly.

One thing that won’t change is the quality of our services. We are especially proud of these achievements dedicated to patient safety and maintain quality of care:

OB Award

Quest for Zero Award in Obstetrics

• MCDH is nationally accredited by the Joint Commission, a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to meeting certain performance standards.

• Our Obstetrics Department is one of only a handful of hospitals in California that has received the “Quest for Zero – Excellence in OB” award for three consecutive years.

• We have received HealthGrades 5-Star Ratings for our orthopedic joint replacement program, pneumonia care and gynecological surgery.

• We consistently receive extremely high patient satisfaction ratings – in the 90+% range.

• MCDH has one of the lowest surgical infection rates of any hospital in California or the U.S


The reason that we have received all of these awards and accomplishments is because of the quality of the people that have dedicated to working here at Mendocino Coast District Hospital.  It is an honor and a privilege for me to be able to work side by side with these high quality professionals.

Says Martha Buck of Mendocino: Delighted to Have Surgery Locally
—Posted Friday, March 9th, 2012 at 5:49 pm— « »

Mark Schaeffer (left), Jack Bellah, MD (right)

Mark Scheffer (left), Jack Bellah, MD (right)

It was very personally satisfying – and a tribute to our great staff and physicians here at Mendocino Coast Hospital – to read the March 8 ‘Letter to the Editor’ in the Beacon from Martha Buck of Mendocino about her experience with joint replacement.

Let me share part of what Martha Wrote:


As prospective residents of Mendocino, my husband and I were initially concerned about the quality of medical care we could receive in the area, especially coming from the East Bay of San Francisco where the likes of UCSF and Stanford hospitals are readily available. As luck would have it, not six months after moving here, I was diagnosed as needing a total left hip replacement. Far sooner than expected, we were faced with the quandary of deciding who/what/where to get the necessary treatment.

My husband and l are very much aware that MCDH has received a bit of unwarranted and unfair negative press lately and I, for one, want to shout out that the care and service I received during the pre-op, the three days I was an in-patient, and post-op were excellent, I was cared for by happy, caring and highly trained people who did everything within their power to make my stay as comfortable as possible, I was delighted to have had the surgery locally and follow-up nursing and physical therapy in my own home.

It is easy to be negative in this fractious world we live in, but we are very fortunate to have such a jewel of a hospital in our midst, not to mention the first-rate, state-of-the-art surgeon on staff, Jack Bellah, MD.

You would be lucky to have him as your physician.

Help Support Cancer Patient Artist-in-Resident Grant Program
—Posted Thursday, March 8th, 2012 at 3:11 pm— « »

We were pleased to learn recently that our hospital oncology program has moved a step closer to winning a grant that would bring a resident artist to our Hematology/Oncology Department to work with our cancer patients.

However, there is a catch: the granting foundation, LiveStrong, requires a show of support from the community.

Live Strong Grant Manager Jordan Parks writes:

“Thank you for your recent application to bring the Creative Center: Hospital Artist in Residence program to your community through the 2012 LIVESTRONG Community Impact Project. I am pleased to inform you that after careful review, your organization has been selected to proceed to the next phase of the selection process; the online voting campaign.

“Online voting allows communities nationwide to rally around their local organizations in a show of support for the organization and the people they serve. The voting process also allows applicants to demonstrate their ability to engage with their communities, a key component in program success and sustainability.”

You can help us win this grant by  following this link and giving the program your vote of confidence. Voting only takes a minute.