Official defends hospital against critical report

In the wake of a report calling for serious reforms, officials with El Camino Hospital said they will continue to work diligently to improve the public's perception of the local health care organization, but called some of the accusations "off-base."

Wes Alles, who sits on both the hospital and district board of directors, responded to some of the most serious charges made in a recent report by the Santa Clara County Local Agency Formation Commission.

The Audit and Service Review of the El Camino Hospital District found the hospital and hospital district lacking in transparency, unaccountable to its constituents and in need of serious reform. In the report, officials with LAFCO -- which has the power to dissolve special districts -- wrote that they would recommend dissolution of the hospital district if the organization does not take sufficient action to address the issues raised by the audit.

Alles said he opposes dismantling the district, which collects about $16 million annually in taxes from residents.

"The publicly elected board members are fully cognizant of their responsibility to the district," said Alles.

Alles said some of the accusations made in the LAFCO report were entirely off-base. Chief among these accusations was that the hospital somehow used tax money, along with the special status it has as a district hospital, to secure the purchase of its Los Gatos campus.

"No funds were transferred from the district to the hospital for the purchase of Los Gatos," Alles said unequivocally.

Alles emphasized portions of the LAFCO document that were complimentary of the hospital. The report came in two parts -- an audit and a service review.

The service review is nothing out of the ordinary. LAFCO regularly puts together such reviews for all the government entities under its purview -- including special districts, fire departments and other public agencies.

"Generally, we are pleased with the service review," Alles said, noting that the review found the hospital was providing top-notch care in its facilities.

LAFCO audits, however, are not regular occurrences; the audit of the El Camino Hospital District came in response to a Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury report which declared that the health care organization did not sufficiently delineate funds collected from taxpayers from funds generated by the hospital's private sector ventures, and that the hospital was not nearly as transparent as it should be.

Alles said the hospital responded accordingly to the grand jury's report -- taking steps to increase the transparency of both its book keeping practices and the manner in which it holds public meetings.

"We have taken steps since (the grand jury report) became known to us," Alles said. "We feel like we're good citizens, and if people feel that (we need to take more steps toward increasing transparency), we are happy to accommodate."

Alles pointed to a series of public question-and-answer sessions held at both the hospital's Mountain View and Los Gatos campuses, intended to allow residents to have their voices heard. And while the hospital corporation and hospital district formerly held their board of directors meetings on the same day, one after the other, the district now holds its public meetings on a different day -- the idea being, according to Alles, to make it clearer which body is meeting and what decisions are being made.

"We've tried to address (these concerns) in the past," Alles said. "I think we have done it verbally in meetings. We have done it in some of our written materials."

If the LAFCO audit is asking El Camino to "somehow more clearly define the district versus the hospital, that is something we are willing to do," he said.

The hospital district board will discuss the LAFCO report at a public meeting, scheduled for June 19 at 5:30 p.m. on the ground floor of El Camino Hospital's Mountain View campus. The public is invited to hear the board members' responses to the report at that time.


Like this comment
Posted by public service
a resident of another community
on Jun 11, 2012 at 3:34 pm

What about electing a District (that is taxpayer) director who vowsNEVERr serve on the non-profit? It is not clear that the public taxpayers have been best served by co-mingling of the responsibilities. The District is not an 'operating board' and it really does not need an MD or a world famous specialist in large health-care operations. It does need someone dedicated to clean - open government. [or else disband the government portion of this]

Like this comment
Posted by Tom the Long-time Taxpayer
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 11, 2012 at 5:42 pm

This "commingling" of funds reminds me of an old Jay Leno joke:

Jay was in Las Vegas and a man came out of a casino. The man said to Jay "Can I have $1 for a cup of coffee?"

Jay responded "How do I know you won't go and gamble the $1 away?"

"Oh, I have gambling money. I just need a dollar for coffee!"

The Hospital Board is asking us taxpayers for $16 million every year in taxes.

We ask "How do we know you won't use the money to go out and buy something out of the district?"

"Oh, we have money to spend elsewhere, we just want money from you to run El Camino!"

Like this comment
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jun 12, 2012 at 7:43 am

As to the comment about " quality service ":

My fondest memories of the last treatment at El Camino Hospital; a really bad case of C Dif that took 3 weeks to get rid of. The CO doctors had me treat myself because no one wanted it to spread ( vector ) into Colorado. Look up C Dif. It's not pretty.

I suggest Mr. Alles " misspoke ". There are many problems at El Camino Hospital that have been deliberately hidden. I experience several others during my " visit ".

Like this comment
Posted by Dorothea Grimes-Farrow
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 13, 2012 at 12:48 pm

El Camino Hospital: Tomi Ryba,President and Chief Executive Officer for the Hospital is addressing the League of Women Voters at a public event Saturday, June 16, 11:30 - 1:30 PM, which includes lunch ($25). Ms. Ryba plans to address hot issues regarding Healthcare and El Camino Hospital. Saturday, June 16, 11:30 am – 1:30 pm, at Michaels at Shoreline, Mountain View. This program is open to the public. Reservations are required. For more information on how to register, go to, or call 650-941-4846. The price is $25 per person, and includes lunch (choose from Pasta Primavera, Chicken Spinach Salad, or Shrimp Louie).

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