Roundtable Looks At YMCA Investigation, Future Of Medicine And Smart Growth
Welcome to our discussion of the week's top stories. Joining me at the KPBS roundtable today are Amita Sharma, reporter, KPBS News and Gary Robbins, reporter, San Diego Union-Tribune and Maya Srikrishnan, reporter, Voice of San Diego. The allegations were serious. -- Awarding contracts based on personal relationships that if parents. The YMCA of San Diego County hired a consultant to look into these complaints and this week the report is sort of out. Amita start with the troubling allegations. You basically listed them, over the last couple of years, several longtime well-respected executive directors and senior managers have been asked to leave the YMCA and it's not clear why. In some of these cases, it appears there were some payouts possible made according to tax documents made and confidential settlements. In the case of one employee, she left with a to another $6000 payment, another former payment left with $136,000 payments. In terms of contracts with vendors, there is a policy at the YMCA that requires branches to buy 85% of their cardio exercise equipment from a vendor called records. This policy came down at a time when regional Vice President was in a relationship with sales reps at record. They had new software that has given them problems, this comes after a task force was put together to select a company that would provide software services, the test force recommended one company, and executive told corporate board that recordation for a company called Taxco was made in their problems with the software. There has also been questions about manipulation of them should figures, those of the allegations they are supposed to look at. That is a lot of troubling stuff. Who is this consultants hired? The consultant is a woman by the name of Deanna Baker, she's a lawyer and investigator. She does these probes looking into harassment, retaliation, discrimination, etc. She started her investigation sometime in July and then I told her wrapped up last week. We're getting an inkling of the high points of what they found but the report is not out yet? Report has not been made public. I asked for a copy, sometimes we, the corporate board is the one who oversees the president and CEO of the YMCA. The corporate board president sent him out to branch managers, the email was carefully worded. He said the investigation found no financial fraud, it found no unlawful discrimination and found no violation of the YMCA's mission. People in the inside tell me, there's a whole lot that may not rise to that level, it may not rise to breaking the law but this allots underneath there, there's mismanagement, incompetence, they believe the investigation is a whitewash and the entire matter will be very. You received a lot of response this week? I've been inundated by people who work there, or you used to work there. The phone won't stop ringing and I have received tons of email messages. Let's talk a little about the scope of the organization. Everyone has heard of the YMCA but this is a big organization. Yes, the YMCA of San Diego County is the second largest in the country and the seventh largest employer in San Diego County. Is a big institution. Laster, is sort 400,000 people there is child care program, sports and youth care, senior citizen or etc. etc. There are a lot of people that go there for different reasons. The new CEO we're talking about, how you is he and what are some of the changes he may be on these allegations that are traveling people? He came around for five years ago. The knock against him, this is a man who has been a poor leader. He is autocratic and he is sort of my way or the highway person. Is on his watch that there has been this exodus of upper management that is on his watch that there was a change in policy which eliminated a youth mentorship discount program that a lot of people relied on and that turned away low income people from the YMCA. This is what is being alleged. They say he ought to be ousted. We asked for an interview with him. He declined to speak with us over the last two stories we did but back in December we did a preliminary interview with him. He is a vibrant energetic man who has a big personality. He has one vision for the YMCA, other people have a different vision. At this point, he appears to have the support of the corporate board but people on the inside tell me he has half the support of his upper managers. It's not clear how he leads going for forward. His contract I'm told expires on September 30. It appears the board is behind that's. If the consultant says is not a problem why can't they be transparent and give the entire report? That is how you settle it, it's not clear. You can only speculate at this point. A people don't release the report or make its public, obsolete the conclusion is they have something to hide. People whom I've spoken to who are questioned by the investigators say the investigation appears to be very thorough. That they were hitting all the key points they had heard about and seeing themselves. They're unwilling to rely on the characterization of the corporate board president who says there hasn't been any wrongdoing. I have asked for the report, they are nonprofit and not obligated to release its. As having somebody would leak it to me, but it has not happened so far. What about transparency regarding the board itself? Can people go to the meetings are open comment versus a closed system? It is a closed system unless they opened its. I have contacted the corporate board numerous times, they don't even acknowledge that I have contacted them. What about the people, many people use their services, how does this affect them? I am told by people on the front lines that all of this tumult at the top has been a distraction from the mission which is outreach to people. Their education programs, there are specific segments of the population that need to be told, we are here and membership isn't going because the focus isn't there. They believe the focus is on turning the why into a spa, fitness type of club. If you do that, people are saying it's his vision, other people are saying the why has traditionally served this entire group of people, senior, low income, youth, etc. they're saying if you go in the direction he wants to tickets, you end up ignoring this important segments. We will see what happens with the board and management as we go for. What if you could have your doctor with you at all times? That may be coming in the near future according to Dr. Robin Cook was best known as the best-selling author medical thrillers. Here is describing what technology could bring to medicine. We have a theory, when I take a step beyond. I realized myself were looking for primary care physicians, were looking to lower cost, we went to incorporate genomics, nanotechnology is coming down the line. IT is advancing rapidly particularly with wireless sensors, etc. This convergence of all these things, I will cover the real the night and said the cell phone is going to be a doctor. There you go. I said how do I make this entertaining? Dr. Cook who is very curious made his case this week to physicians and scientists. There you have covered science and technology a long time. Are the principles in there, is what he discussing sound? This is the near future. A lot of these technologies already exist. The IT he spoke about, you can already use your phone to measure many different things. You can hook up your phone to monitor all the things you would monitor in an intensive care unit. Now will go to the second stage and do blood samples and saliva samples, etc. That takes a deeper. Rather than just knowing your blood pressure or heart rate, you get biological information. He argues with a short period of time, between what you can sense on these things and the ability of the algorithms to quickly process information they'll all come into the phone, the phone will tell you, your temperature is often in your white blood cells are out of balance, you need to see a doctor. This is meant to replace primary care physicians in some places but not entirely. How do doctors do this? They filled threatened. A lot of it surfaced at a meeting at a compass and La Jolla. Doctors feel a sense of paternalism of the public can't understand this kind of information and they shouldn't even have this information about themselves. There is a big societal push back. All of these insurance give us our own data. As we look at it, we're asking more and more questions. As the programs become better and give us better answers, I would use the doctor as a mentor. This was talked a lot about yesterday. Doctors are under great pressure to bring prices down, technologies competing with them to do that. If you could do tests that cost little or nothing we don't have to see a doctor, you may bring the prices down. The implications are enormous because as you say, if you don't have to go in for a simple test and the cost of getting there and parking etc. if you don't have to go in for a simple test and the cost of getting there and parking etc. That's lowers the profits to the doctors and insurance companies who take their chunk out of all of that. If we're looking with Obamacare and elsewhere to lower costs, it seems this is the happy marriage from the patient standpoint. They spoke yesterday about how more people have healthcare are ensured that doesn't necessarily mean they have more health care. They may not be able to get in to see a doctor. The idea that your phone can perform the function of many doctors is appealing on many levels. There's another part of it. Get all this information and then you talk to a doctor on your cell phone or iPad, you can get to a specialist more quickly. There trying to bring down the prices of that. John Scully was there talking about it. He spoke about this going to be a forced on him prices that a lot of these companies are copying Amazon. It's about bringing prices down and bring experience. If you can make this a good experience, people will take to it and turn away from some areas of medicine possibly reducing the cost and increasing the number of people who actually gets healthcare. I also wonder about the generational thing. They are less likely to turn to technology, a lot of people younger people are not afraid. I wonderful come to younger people first. A few years ago it was true that people -- younger people were -- if you go to fashion Valley, a place for people gather, they all have cell phones. Many have iPads, it has become part of their life and it their streaming information into their phones etc. I don't think it's a matter anymore about older people don't like the technology. I think the big question will be can understand what they are told? If the phone tells you something medically, do you have a good enough basic understanding to know what you're being told. If your phone tells you one thing in your doctor tells you something else who you listen to? They were say in the future prescriptions will come from algorithms. That maybe different from what's your doctors said. A lot of people will the algorithm is better because of taking all the information about the prescriptions ever written in that particular situation and crunching data and trying to figure out what's is best. Does a doctor not have the capacity to do that? It depends on the circumstance. We know how busy doctors are. When you go to your doctor, you feel that movement for their anxious to move onto the next patient. Can I be up on every type of health issue? John Scully joked about how doctors looking at Google or Wikipedia. You wouldn't think it's true but I had a physician show me a package that doctors consult about various drugs and have them prescribe a drug or me. He's using a database because he can't keep it all here, he keeps it here. I want to get into bedside manner. Siri is a robotic voice and what about your doctor reassure you and all of that. This is where I disagree. The question of empathy. There is a devastating scene in the book where the men will die from cancer. He gets the information from the phone, can be empathetic even if you make that voice on its empathetic? That hasn't been worked out yet. Fascinating things. We are going to shift gears, at first blush the North County city of San Marcos may seem that perfect example of Southern California sprawl. Is a suburb far from the big city. Look closer, the idea of smart growth is thriving in San Marcos. What is San Marcos doing right now in terms of smart growth? The primary thing they are doing, they are trying to focus and encourage development around their transit station so read the Sprint or light-rail stations. Are trying to build residence and commercial there to focus populations and encourage use of those transit areas. They're also trying to create streets and red designs that are more pedestrian and bicycle friendly. That is the definition of smart growth. Yes, walk ability compact debts. Colitis to limit automobile trips. Was this a master plan? Is this something that just happened naturally did they have leadership who wanted to go in this direction. I think they have leadership to go that direction for a long time. They started making plans for these things in 2007. Included a lot of smart growth plans to try to include these things ahead of time. The sprinter was brought into service in 2000 The sprinter was brought into service in 2008. The sprinter is a light rail that goes between Oceanside, Escondido Vista and San Marcos. They worked around this punter? Yes. It started planning for as soon as they knew that was going to come online. They had a couple of hiccups, now there are more funds and developers are getting more encouraged financially, they can take those plans up again. Is this because there's not a lot of opposition to smart growth up there as we have seen pushback in other areas of the county and other cities? There are some opposition in 2007. I think, anytime you try to change what plots of land are going to be useful, there's opposition. They got there a lot of that was committed by an. These stations have the benefit of young university populations that may be more open to gets. What was encouraging is the growth in numbers in recent years. Yes. San Marcos, the ridership is fairly low for most sprinter stations. One of the San Marcos stations had an increase of almost 60% in the past couple years which is huge. It shows more people are moving into that area and starting to use it. We also mention San Marcos teamed up with circulate San Diego. That is a transportation advocacy organization here. They were working with the city around Palomar College Station to implement road designs that made it safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. That meant better by clans, sidewalks crosswalks etc. Is it very are there a lot of hills? If the colleges and transit lines are close together, that also helps. Yes, that definitely helps. They improving roads and putting in a residential buildings nearby so you don't have to bike 3 miles to get to the nearest transit station. They have vision there also. NewsTalk in your stories about shuttles that are not there yet but they are coming. This is one of the reasons San Marcos has been so successful. Have already planned out our roots and a way to find a bus that would go from downtown to these stations. When there's a demand for this, they can implement it easily. This doesn't surprise me, San Marcos is 26 years old, the way they plan to the University seems to be really well done. They are connected so once the interest in North County, if you look at what they're putting out in programming, their connecting well, they're becoming a hub of San Marco's. They are now to 12,000 students and that will go to more before very long. It's interesting to see how it's all being connected together. I think they are trying to make the transition from a suburban area to having this urban center by the University. We talked on the show about Lila kills, another development, have both been criticized for failing to adhere to these smart growth things, what are those doing wrong and San Marcos is doing right? It's being developed in an area that, Valley is dense and this will last 23 acre plot of land they are trying to develop. It's not here any public transportation so one of the big concerns is is is going to increase traffic and vehicle usage. Lila kills, within the boundaries of developing itself is walkable. It is near the eye 15 but it's not anywhere near where there will be public transportation anytime in the future. We look forward to follow up stories. That wraps up another week of stories that KPBS roundtable. I would like to thank my guests, Gary Robbins, reporter, San Diego Union-Tribune and Maya Srikrishnan, reporter, Voice of San Diego and Amita Sharma, reporter, KPBS News thanks for joining us on the roundtable.
An independent investigation into mismanagement at the San Diego YMCA has cleared executives of wrong doing. But details on the investigation are sketchy, as it has not been released to the public.
The organization had come under fire for mistreatment of staff, lack of diversity among employees, and the way it handles vendor contracts.
The San Diego Y is the second largest in the country, and the seventh largest employer in the county. Its mission is to serve poor and underserved people, and some say the recent problems at the top are affecting this mission with diminished outreach, programs and new membership.
Amita Sharma has been following the story, and talks about what's next for the YMCA.
The best-selling author of many medical thrillers says your phone could soon replace your physician, and it could be a marked improvement: Your phone probably knows you better than your doctor does, and Siri's bedside manner might also be better.
Dr. Robin Cook explored this near-future scenario in his most-recent book "Cell" and delivered his predictions on how his fictional app "iDoc" could evolve this week in La Jolla, at a conference held by the Scripps Translational Science Institute.
Gary Robbins of the San Diego Union-Tribune talked to Dr. Cook about what's new in digital health.
San Marcos leads the way on smart growth
One of the guiding principals in the San Diego County's development plan is smart growth: Building communities that are walkable, close to public transit and don't contribute to urban sprawl.
How well specific housing developments achieve this is a matter of debate. Both the Lilac Hills Ranch project and the recently approved One Paseo project have been criticized for not being smart enough.
But one North County city is getting it right, reports Maya Srikrishnan of Voice of San Diego: It's San Marcos. With bike and pedestrian-friendly streets, and transit-oriented development, the city could be an example for the rest of the region.