BRAWLEY-The Pioneers Memorial Hospital District Board of Directors held their candidates forum inside the Walker Auditorium Tuesday evening.
Incumbent candidates Dr. George K. Ching, Mrs. Linda Rubin, and Mr. Marcus Tapia sat with opposing candidates Mr. Jeffery Klicka and Mrs. Maria Garcia-Aguilera in front of interested citizens as they debated hospital policy.
The Regional Government Affairs Committee sponsored the forum, Greg Smith hosting the question and answer format.
Each candidate spoke for their two minute introduction concerning their reasons for wanting to govern. Tapia explained his primary goal is maintaining the ‘excellence’ that is present in the departments at PMHD. Other candidates believed otherwise and expressed the need for change.
“What’s past is past, if we continue on the same path that we are on now, then in 5 years from now we are going to be in pretty rough shape,” said Dr. Ching stating his beliefs about the district’s direction.
Different question were asked to each candidate throughout the night, but only one question was the ‘hot’ topic for the night. Audible noises rose from those gathered when Mr. Smith questioned the candidates about the merger between PMHD and El Centro Regional Medical Center.
Candidate Klicka was adamant about the merger not happening yet, “I am not going to make a decision on this question until I go and research the facts and get the information that is not known to the public.”
Candidate Mrs. Aguilera believed that ECRMC would be gaining more on their part then PMHD would be gaining.
When the forum was near to ending, the audience asked questions which all centered on the upcoming merger. Many asked the candidates to put the matter on the ballot for the public to vote on their approval or disapproval of the merger.
As the room filled with discussion, candidate Ching took the lead on the matter saying, “We are elected as a board to represent the district, I believe that the board has the responsibility to do what is right for the district.”
At the close of the forum, many in the audience approached the candidates still wanting to discuss the merger, others left dissatisfied with answers they heard concerning the deal inked by PMHD and ECRMC.
“I can’t believe it! We can’t even get it together in our own hospital, why would we want to take on another one?” said George Villaloza of Brawley, a guest at the forum.