The new additions expand the hospital's board to 11 members, and marks the latest move by the hospital's leadership to bring more specialized expertise into El Camino's governance structure. Up until now, the board consisted of all five of the health care district's board members — who are directly elected by the public — along with hospital CEO Dan Woods and three appointed members who are expected to have deep experience in the world of health care.
In August last year, a majority of district board members insisted that the three additional expert members weren't enough, and voted to expand with more non-elected members.
Kalbach has been a familiar face at the hospital for years, serving on El Camino's governance and investment committees and frequently weighing in on the hospital board's major decisions. He said he took "strong pride" in being partially responsible for creating the two extra positions on the hospital's board of directors, and that his goal is always to push for what's best for the hospital.
"I've argued with you, I've agreed with you, I've prodded you, all working within the same goal — making El Camino Hospital a world-class institution," he said.
Kalbach said his top priority as a board member would be monitoring the hospital's financial situation during turbulent times in the health care market, and that there shouldn't be big, unexplained shifts in the hospital's budget. He pointed out that last week, board members and the hospital's financial staff couldn't fully explain why El Camino had pulled in revenue far above expectations, instead speculating on six different reasons for the increase. He the hospital should have a strong grasp on changes in its $800 million annual budget, and that he found the situation "puzzling."
"I'm presuming somebody is asking for the data to analyze why this surprising increase took place," he said. "Financial analysis is No. 1 for any institution."
Kliger, a health care consultant and former nurse, has a long history advising hospitals on how to better treat patients and avoid medication errors and deaths due to sepsis, with articles published in several medical journals. Her achievements include leading a multi-million dollar effort that brought down sepsis mortality by more than 55 percent and medication errors down by 88 percent at the University of California, San Francisco.
Although Kliger is an Oakland resident, she touted her local roots, noting that her father worked as an obstetrician at the hospital and that she grew up "around the corner" from El Camino. Before switching to consulting jobs, she worked as a nurse on the Peninsula, providing pediatric care for cancer patients at Stanford Children's Hospital, and later worked in the emergency department at Highland Hospital in Oakland.
In a statement released last week, El Camino Healthcare District board chair Peter Fung called both appointments "valued additions" to the board, noting Kalbach's financial background and Kliger's long career in improving patient care.
"With the diversely skilled and committed board, we will work to deliver on the hospital's mission and vision to advance the health of our patients and our entire community," Fung said in the statement.
Kalbach's term expires at the end of June 2021, while Kliger's term expires in June 2020. Although the appointed board members make major decisions on the hospital's governance and budget decisions, elected members of El Camino Healthcare District's board reserve the right to remove any appointed members.
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