Crowded Field Vying For Tri-City Healthcare District's Board of Directors
Control of the Tri-City Hospital District's board of directors is up for grabs. On November 4, North County voters will have to choose between eleven candidates vying for five seats.
Tri-City Healthcare District Candidates
Because it's a public entity, Tri-City Healthcare District is governed by an elected board of directors.
The Tri-City Healthcare District has had a troubled past. Its hospital serves some half a million people in Carlsbad, Vista, and Oceanside. But three times in recent years, district voters have rejected a bond measure to seismically retrofit the hospital.
The board has had some troubles of its own, culminating with the firing of Tri-City’s CEO Larry Anderson in 2013.
Since then, the board has tried to right the ship. At a recent candidates' forum on Oceanside's cable channel, KOCT, incumbent Ramona Finnila said the board is doing a fine job.
"This board majority has saved the hospital financially," she said. "We have saved the Wellness Center from financial problems. We have opened up the medical office building from a tremendously complicated fiscal arrangement."
Challenger Laura Mitchell contended the board has mismanaged the emergency department.
"I do believe that it is understaffed," Mitchell said. "It also has problems with bed space, as in, not enough beds. But it has a ripple effect — it’s delaying treatment within the hospital."
Mitchell is one of six challengers who are trying to unseat five incumbents running for reelection.
Moving forward, Tri-City must either retrofit its hospital or build a new facility by 2030. Some argue it would be cheaper to construct a new hospital than to earthquake-proof its current structure.
The current board believes it would be possible to fund a retrofit with federal HUD money, rather than going to the voters again to ask for another bond measure. However, HUD money is only available to hospital districts that make a profit.
The board must also decide whether to sell the 397-bed hospital, affiliate with one of the county’s larger medical systems, or continue to try to function independently.