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Our Opinion: A tough job ahead

January 10, 2001

We welcome the new chief executive officer of El Centro Regional Medical Center, David B. Selman, to the Imperial Valley.

The hospital board selected Selman from 300 applicants and he will take the reins of El Centro Regional after serving as chief operating officer for two hospitals in Santa Ana. Selman replaces Ted Fox, who left the hospital after being at its helm for eight years.

We do not know much about Selman other than that he has a background that appears to make him qualified to take on the position.

With his history as a hospital administrator we are confident Selman should be aware of the issues hospitals such as El Centro Regional are facing.

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Selman will start as the chief executive officer when hospitals are struggling with the federal Balanced Budget Act, which has cut the reimbursements hospitals get for patients who receive Medi-Cal and Medicare. He takes on his new role when the state is short of nurses, which means hospitals are having to pay more to contract nursing services.

Selman also comes to El Centro as the hospital is undertaking a major construction project that will greatly expand the facility. The changes include adding a two-story 66,000 square-foot expansion to provide new patient beds, a 20-bed emergency facility, a 12-bed intensive care unit, new operating room facilities and a new lobby entrance.

The work will be funded through a $26 million bond issue and a $2 million public subscription campaign. Those are large numbers. We have a feeling, based on the effects the Pioneers Memorial Hospital expansion project in Brawley had on that facility that El Centro Regional could be facing a rough ride.

The hospital will need a strong leader to hold the facility together as it works through the expansion and tries to balance providing quality service with a difficult time in the medical-care industry.

All we can do is put our faith in the hospital board that it has chosen the best individual as chief executive officer. Selman has the qualifications. We have a sense he will bring energy and new ideas to benefit both the hospital and the people who depend on it.

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