Alameda County supervisors on Tuesday voted to fire all but two of the volunteer board of trustees of the Alameda Health System if they don’t resign.
If the trustees do not resign by Nov. 6, they will be removed by Nov. 30. Four of the five supervisors supported the motion while Supervisor Keith Carson abstained.
Supervisor Wilma Chan, who has advocated for the change along with board President Richard Valle, said among other problems there is broken trust between workers and administrators and a lack of transparency around the budget. Additionally, the trustees have not been holding the health system’s managers accountable.
“We want to reset the board,” Chan said.
The decision to fire the trustees is an interim step as supervisors work to revise the governance of the health system. Current trustees may reapply for a seat on a new established board. They must reapply by Nov. 6 by sending a resume to Valle.
“You have all, individually and collectively, demonstrated yourselves to be committed and hardworking stewards of our County’s public hospital system, as well as passionate advocates of its mission,” Valle and Chan wrote in a letter to the trustees.
“Unfortunately, over the last two years, the AHS Administration has eroded trust and damaged the system’s relationships with its employees and partners, including labor representatives, Medical Staff, and the County,” the letter said.
It added that this resulted in a workers’ strike that lasted five days, costing the health system $10 million in unbudgeted costs.
“This was hugely disappointing to us because we believe the strike was avoidable and unnecessary," the two supervisors wrote.
The trustees have heard from health system employees that its managers have not tried to listen, engage and collaborate about the challenges the system faces, according to Chan and Valle.
So, the supervisors believe the system needs trustees who will listen to the system’s stakeholders and partners, work with them and “hold their Administration strictly accountable for financial and operational performance and make tough decisions.”
Chan and Valle said it is their responsibility to make sure that trustees are “ready and able to repair the critical relationships needed to keep the System viable.”
The mission of the health system is to provide care for the county’s indigent population. As far as governance reform, the supervisors are examining different models.
“It’s the model that's caused the problem,” Supervisor Nate Miley said.
By changing the model, supervisors hope to improve the accountability of the health system’s CEO, Delvecchio Finley, and its executive leadership, have hospital leaders work collaboratively with employees and partners, and ensure the administration is transparent about problems facing the system.
Supervisors plan to meet in early December or January with stakeholders and reveal a plan for changing the model by the end of March.
The two trustees who will remain on the health system’s board are a medical staff member and a representative from Alameda Hospital.
Dozens of people spoke during public comment, with hospital managers in favor of maintaining the status quo and front-line workers fed up with the current situation. Contractors also spoke in favor of the health system’s leadership.
But that was not enough to sway the board, which has heard from front-line workers for months—if not years—about the problems a change may alleviate.
A call to Alameda Health System spokesman Terry Lightfoot was not immediately returned for comment.
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