I think we all agree that Healthcare can and should be better in Imperial County. Numerous attempts have been made to bring the hospital districts and agencies together over the past twenty plus years, but now, we have an opportunity to correct the situation and bring our resources under one entity.
As background, I have worked as a Firefighter, Paramedic, County EMS Manager, ECRMC Director and PMHD Administrator. Each agency has dedicated men and women serving the public also, providing meaningful incomes for their families. Between the two hospitals, two thousand employees depend on the hospitals for employment and a stable work environment.
Beyond the employee population, every citizen of our community is depending on each agency to be available when needed. It is not a matter of one versus the other. An accident in Westmorland will go to Pioneers and a severe illness in Holtville will go to El Centro Regional; or vice versa. These agencies are codependent and cannot survive without each other.
Now, we have (2) paths for bringing these agencies together. Legislation, in the form of Assembly Bill 918, and Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCO) Expansion of the Pioneers Healthcare District.
Assemblymember Garcia’s AB918 creates a new Imperial Valley Healthcare District, and if successful in Sacramento, the bill could be signed in September. AB918 will instruct LAFCO to prepare actions for a new representative healthcare district board and a voter referendum.
LAFCO Expansion of Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District creates a county-wide healthcare district and could be completed by September. The LAFCO process includes stakeholder meeting with impacted communities and a fiscal financial analysis. The financial analysis is crucial for the viability and sustainability of a new county-wide healthcare district.
The Assembly Bill and the LAFCO process are not in conflict. Each path has value to our community and can work in concert to resolve the issue before us. While the bill will create the “Imperial Valley Healthcare District” and governance guidelines; the follow-up is directed to LAFCO and that process has begun. The LAFCO will provide answers to questions like, healthcare district representation, facility costs, insurance reimbursements, and tax assessments.
I support both paths as one solution. AB918 creates a new healthcare district and LAFCO defines the district for the future. Simultaneously, AB918 bill continues through the California Legislature and LAFCO performs the financial feasibility analysis, both concluding in the Fall of 2023.
LAFCO needs the participation of ECRMC, PMHD and Heffernan to complete a meaningful financial feasibility study. We should all support each effort and continue the community discussion.
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