Over the last few weeks, a small but vocal group in our community has continued to call into question the performance and legitimacy of the District’s interim CEO, Mary Casillas. Let me assure you that the San Benito Health Care District Board fully supports her and has no plans to make any changes to our executive team. 

While this group claims decisions were made behind closed doors, the record shows a very public and well-documented process. In fact, the appointment was covered by local publications at the time and can be easily reviewed through the archives. To clarify, I wanted to take a moment and review the timeline and the district’s decisions. 

After a national search for qualified candidates for the COO position was unsuccessful, CEO Steve Hannah determined Ms. Casillas may be the best person for the job given her experience. Ms. Casillas’ experience in healthcare management includes more than 27 years of hospital and healthcare administration. She holds a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration. 

Frankly, her qualifications for the position were far superior to those that had initially applied for the job. Mr. Hannah decided to hire Ms. Casillas after she resigned from the Board of Directors, and she reported directly to him. 

To fill the vacancy created by Mr. Hannah’s departure in October 2022, the Finance Committee and the board discussed the interim CEO position at open and regular public meetings. Both the committee and the board determined Ms. Casillas to be the best candidate to fill the vacancy given her qualifications and experience. 

Subsequently, given the declaration of fiscal emergency, and the enormity of the tasks before the board, the board deferred any search to fill the permanent CEO position, and has supported Ms. Casillas continuing in this interim role. 

As interim CEO, Ms. Casillas has had the difficult task of navigating an unprecedented financial crisis. Keeping Hazel Hawkins Hospital open has never been a more difficult job or a more important one. She accepted the interim position, taking on many more responsibilities and has been tireless in her commitment to find the right buyer or partner that will ensure our community has access to affordable and reliable healthcare today and well into the future. 

And while other healthcare institutions across the state are closing, Ms. Casillas and her team, along with our board, have managed to not only shore up finances, but to keep the hospital open to the community to provide life-saving care. 

Mary is the best person for this job. As a lifelong Hollister resident, having raised her family here, Ms. Casillas has a passion and commitment to the community in keeping the hospital viable for many years to come. Her efforts, and those of all of our staff and physicians, have allowed the hospital to stay open while others in a similar position would have likely shut their doors. 

Jeri Hernandez 

SBHCD Board President 

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  1. Did the Board have a Public meeting with the other Board members to get their vote of support or did the President take it upon herself to unilaterally write this public letter. An opinion piece like this letter on a subject of vital interest to the Community members who objected, should have been openly put to vote by the entire Board prior to being made public. When will the Board learn the protocol on holding a public office ? Might be too late now…

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