While I appreciate whenever an elected official takes the time to communicate with the public, especially of our San Benito Health Care District, the public should take offense at the letter from board president Jeri Hernandez, recently published (July 14) by the Hollister Free Lance.

Herndandez’s claims that Casillas, her team and fellow board members have managed to keep the hospital open to the community may be subject to interpretation of what “open” means. 

A resident needing non-elective surgery and/or the Intensive Care Unit post-operation may find a door at Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital that they can walk or be carried into. But beyond it they will find that for over a month, HHMH has not been able to perform any non-elective surgeries that may need more than the care of a regular medical surgical unit to recover. That’s important because more surgeries means more revenue, which HHMH desperately needs. A hospital with the investment in infrastructure that we taxpayers have paid for—and for quality of life concerns—needs more than just an emergency room. 

Being a lifelong resident, and raising a family in San Benito County are not qualifications to be a CEO of anything, but President Hernandez uses that as her closing statement as basis of support for the current incumbent. 

Education from top-notch medical institutions, providing medical care, leading teams to success, having business acumen, and realizing that Hazel Hawkins Hospital is a public agency with the responsibility of accountability to the voters are all requirements to be the CEO of Hazel Hawkins Hospital. I believe the incumbent fails these tests.

Listed key achievements at her prior position include, “Managed body of work for CHI/Dignity Health alignment, coordinated all pharmacy licenses for alignment, coordinated Attorney General Meetings for California, oversight/managed National Covid Lab set up, coordinated HEI applications for California, Pharmacy strategy to include Specialty Pharmacy, National Reference Lab expansion, created DIEB team, part of team to set up COVID Surge Hospital in Los Angeles.”

Does that sound like CEO work to you?

I have made a public records request to validate, or invalidate, board president Hernandez’s statement that “…the Finance Committee and the board discussed the interim CEO position at open and regular public meetings where the board determined Ms. Casillas to be the best candidate to fill the [CEO] vacancy.” 

As someone who has attended every board meeting since the crisis was announced, I do not recall any such discussions being held, and since no timeline was actually provided in her letter, I do believe Jeri Hernandez’s claims are false.

Aside from overseeing the failure of Hazel Hawkins Hospital and not feeling any remorse, the biggest failure of the hospital board, its administrators, legal counsel and financial advisors, is to be honest, transparent and accountable to the public. I write this rebuttal to hopefully encourage them to change their ways.  

Robert E. Bernosky


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