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Our Opinion: A skinking ship

January 06, 2001

Maybe it's time to call the whole thing off.

The Heffernan Memorial Hospital board oversees the operations of Calexico hospital, a hospital that doesn't operate, surgically or otherwise, and hasn't operated in a long time. When it was running in recent years it didn't run well. Employees weren't paid, bills weren't paid, surgical instruments weren't clean, corruption was rampant.

Now the two people with experience on the board are leaving. Cindy Aguilar has resigned and Jack Anderson has not been attending meetings and the board appears ready to boot him.

Maybe Anderson's ouster isn't such a bad thing. Those who know him know his reputation and his "problems," despite his years of trying to provide service to the community. Further, one fellow board member has publicly criticized him for airing the district's closed-session matters to the City Council.

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The remaining board members aren't much better. While well-intentioned people, it appears they're steering a ship with little knowledge of winds, currents or tides.

Until the Heffernan district board does something to provide medical services to Calexico residents, we will continue to call for the board's disbandment.

Yes, we realize the dissolution of the district would result in the cessation of a voter-approved half-cent sales tax going to pay debts incurred by past operations at Calexico Hospital.

Yes, we realize the loss of that tax revenue would likely cause the debt to fall squarely on the city's shoulders.

It's for these reasons we suggest the district do whatever necessary to pay off the debts as early as possible and disband once that happens. We've heard predictions the more than $9 million in bonds will be paid off somewhere in the neighborhood of 2007.

This may be an unpopular take on the state of health care in Calexico, but it's high-time the residents thought about just what the Heffernan Memorial Hospital District has done for them — a half-cent sales tax and no hospital.

Calexico needs a hospital, and a good one at that, and under the present setup, it appears more and more that will never happen.

It's time to start anew with something completely different. We are not certain what that is; we just know it is not this.

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