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Hospital board OKs trustee resignation, asks another to give up seat

January 03, 2001|By RICHARD MONTENEGRO, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Changes are afoot on the Heffernan Memorial Hospital District Board of Trustees.

At the board's regular meeting here Wednesday, trustees Norma Apodaca, Rosie Fernandez and David Ouzan took action to accept the resignation of longtime Trustee Cindy Aguilar, call for the resignation of oft-absent Trustee Jack Anderson and set the wheels in motion to appoint a member of the community to Aguilar's former seat, which still has two years remaining.

The board governs the vacant Calexico Hospital.

By a 3-0 vote the board not only accepted Aguilar's letter of resignation but declared a vacant seat. In a companion motion, the board declared its intent to appoint a member of the community to the vacant seat. The board's clerk, Lupita Ortega, will forward a letter of intent to the county Elections Department.

Said Ouzan: "By appointing we will just speed things up."

In a letter dated Dec. 20, Aguilar informed the board she has taken a job in Yuma. While the letter states she will remain a Calexico resident, she writes time constraints make her attendance at meetings difficult.


Further, Aguilar states in the letter, "A secondary reason for resigning from the board is the frustration of the board's inability to provide the service to the community that it so desperately needs due to the political influences from the city government."

The remaining trustees directed the board clerk to post three notices throughout the district informing Calexico residents there is a board vacancy and to solicit any prospective trustees by asking for letters of interest, in accordance with the state government code.

Hospital board legal counsel Eduardo Rivera said such a posting needs to be up in at least three "conspicuous" places throughout the district at least 15 days before an appointment.

Calexico resident Ray Falcon, who ran for the district board in November but was defeated for the final seat on the board by Ouzan, attended Wednesday's meeting to express interest in the vacant seat.

"I'm here to announce that I'd like to be considered for the position you have open," Falcon said during the public comment section of the meeting, "since I lost."

As for Anderson's absence from board meetings, Rivera said the state health and safety code states the term of a director shall expire if that person has been absent from three or more consecutive regular meetings or three of five consecutive special meetings. However, the expiration of that term must be acted upon by the remaining board members.

Ortega, after reviewing the minutes of past meetings, said Anderson had not attended a regular meeting since October.

Rivera added, "Under the authority of the health and safety code, his term could expire as of today."

The board, however, opted Wednesday to afford Anderson the opportunity to resign before declaring the seat vacant.

Fernandez suggested contacting Anderson out of courtesy.

"At least call him to find out. Maybe he would prefer to resign," she said.

Ouzan added, "I don't see any urgency to fire him. He's been effective in his term."

In a 3-0 vote the board directed staff to contact Anderson as soon as possible to ask for his resignation or the board will act on the health and safety code statute.

"The board should be at full capacity, not messing around," Ouzan said.

Anderson has not spoken to his fellow board members in some months, trustees said Wednesday.

In other hospital district business, the board tabled any decision in regard to requesting the Calexico Redevelopment Agency pay for the installation of a new air conditioner in the north wing of Calexico Hospital.

Rivera said an air-conditioning contractor from Calexico will conduct an inspection of the existing boiler heating/cooling system to determine if there is need for a new system or if repairs can be made to the existing unit.

Fernandez stated she would like to see the old system replaced, having spent summers working in Calexico Hospital with the unit not functioning properly.

"Every year we had the same problem — it broke down in the summer," she said. "I personally feel, why waste time and spend money to have people evaluate it?"

Ouzan and Apodaca said the system should be looked at so a more informed decision can be reached.

"I think it would be sufficient if we want to get specific knowledge of the system before we face the Redevelopment Agency and ask for money," Ouzan said.

The Redevelopment Agency owns the Calexico Hospital building.

The hospital board was also updated about negotiations with Imperial Valley Family Care Medical Group for the operation of a clinic in a portion of the hospital building.

Rivera told the board a non-binding letter of intent to establish in Calexico Hospital is expected from I.V. Family Care by the end of this week or early next week.

He added a draft lease agreement has been drawn but details still have to be worked out, including input from the hospital board members.

"Specifics as far as rent amount and lease time will be brought back," Rivera said.

A special hospital board meeting will likely be scheduled within the next two weeks to further negotiations.

Staff Writer Richard Montenegro can be reached at 337-3453.

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