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December 3, 2023

Letter: No man behind the curtain at Hazel Hawkins

When a fiscal crisis hits our beloved hospital like a tornado we seem to become like Dorothy searching for a wizard to save it. Let’s follow the yellow brick road to Oz to learn with Dorothy and her companions about the wizard, who is just a man behind a curtain pulling levers.

At the recent hospital forum we heard from some of those pulling levers. The current CFO announced that increased cost of supplies and services brought the wind storm. The real blast was a difficult problem to hear. Overpayment of insurance funds had to be returned to Medicare. This seemed to be a fatal mishandling of levers to execute safe management.  

The CEO, Mary Casillas, a former member of the hospital board, announced that most if not all hospitals in the country are experiencing problems. Mary announced that she is searching for a partner for the hospital. A partnership with a larger hospital would solve many issues like being able to purchase in bulk while enjoying cheaper prices.

The CFO or financial officer stepped forward again to announce to a worried audience that stability does exist because the hospital has $20 million in assets. Twenty million seems to be the Emerald City. But we do not live in a fairy tale. Obviously, assets need to be changed into operating healthcare costs.

When we realize that there is no wizard and behind the curtain is someone like us and like the lion, the tin man and the scarecrow, people can rely on their own mind, heart and brains and can come up with ideas. A countywide fund drive can be conducted. The wealthy can be asked for contributions.  

Although unpopular, people can think about raising the property tax rate. Most of all, we need a responsible hospital board with oversight and clear transparency. We can ask for more responsible board members and vote accordingly.

We can ask the hospital to sell some of its properties for better operating funds. We can ask the CFO for budget transparency and detailed explanations and transparency of executive salaries. Let’s leave the land of Oz and return home to our Kansas or to San Benito County.

Mary Zanger


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