El Camino Hospital will hold two community forums next week -- one at each of its campuses -- that aim to familiarize the public with the health care organization's plans to expand its board of directors and committees.
The meetings are set for 6:30 p.m. on March 19 in Los Gatos and March 21 in Mountain View.
Over the past few years, the hospital has been criticized for a number of its decisions and policies. Layoffs, financial troubles, the firing of a CEO, challenges to its executive pay scale, and a grand jury report questioning the hospital's handling of taxpayer dollars have all worked to tarnish El Camino's reputation in the community.
While the hospital has had its share of troubles, it is also the victim of misunderstanding, said spokeswoman Chris Ernst.
"There are a lot of misperceptions out there," Ernst said.
For example, Ernst said she often hears people ask how the hospital will afford the board expansion. "All of our board members are unpaid," she responded.
In some cases, she added, misinformation is being spread about El Camino. According to Ernst, she was approached outside of the Nob Hill market on Grant Road by a petitioner who told her that the administrators from the hospital were being paid with money collected from taxpayers living within the hospital district.
On the contrary, Ernst said, all the money collected by the hospital district goes to the hospital's "capital improvement fund" and the community benefit fund, which funds projects like a grant that pays for school nurses in the Mountain View Whisman School District, a children's dental center in Sunnyvale and Rotacare -- the free healthcare service for low-income people.
She and other hospital administrators hope that the upcoming community forums will help "clarify any misunderstandings and misperceptions" that may exist.
Plans for the meetings have long been in the works and that the hospital hopes to hold three or four similar meetings every year in the future, said Ernst. The idea is to work toward having a more open dialogue with the surrounding community.
The first community forum will be held March 19, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., at El Camino Hospital's Los Gatos campus, 815 Pollard Road, Los Gatos, in conference rooms 1, 2 and 3.
The second will be held March 21, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., at the Mountain View campus, 2500 Grant Road, in conference rooms E and F.