Mountain View Voice

News - August 3, 2012

Hospital district's future looks rosier

by Nick Veronin

The future of the El Camino Hospital District was up for discussion Wednesday afternoon, at a meeting of the Santa Clara County Local Agency Formation Commission.

At the Aug. 1 meeting in San Jose, officials from LAFCO were set to decide whether to approve the Audit and Service Review of the El Camino Hospital District — a report which finds the hospital lacking in transparency and in need of many reforms.

A complete story on the meeting, which wrapped up as the Voice went to press, will be posted online at mv-voice.com.

Though edits have been made to the audit, originally released in late May, the tone of the document remains the same. It finds that it is very difficult to distinguish between what is done with district money, which is generated by the taxpayers living within the district, and the corporation's money, which is generated through hospital operations. The audit recommended dissolution of the district as the ultimate sanction, should the hospital fail to comply with recommendations.

The audit also finds fault with the district's purchase of the Los Gatos Community Hospital campus, a move that expanded El Camino well beyond the boundaries of the El Camino Hospital District.

"While the opening of the Los Gatos Hospital may make business sense for the Corporation, that action redefines the mission of the Corporation — and, indirectly, the District — in a manner that is wholly inconsistent with the intended purpose of the District," the report states.

The 103-page report recommended the district "implement improvements in governance, transparency and public accountability."

The meeting concluded with the LAFCO board taking the option of dissolution of the district off the table, a move that hospital spokeswoman Chris Ernst said made her "very happy."

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