Pioneers to consider contract with Brim

April 02, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

BRAWLEY — The Pioneers Memorial Hospital board has set a special meeting for 5 today to consider its contract with Brim Healthcare Inc., which has managed the hospital for 14 years.

Tonight's meeting will be a closed session at Pioneers hospital, 207 W. Legion Road.

The agenda states there will be an evaluation of the hospital's two top administrators, both Brim employees — Chief Executive Officer Richard Mendoza and Chief Financial Officer Daniel Heckathorne.

Mendoza was recently hired; Heckathorne has been with Pioneers for the duration of the Brim contract.

The agenda, after listing each position to face evaluation, notes the jobs are part of the Brim contract.

Mendoza said this morning the first year of a five-year contract the board approved with Brim ends in June and the board has the opportunity to review that contract.

When the board approved the contract a year ago, it stated the board could break from the contract without cause after the first year. The contract with Brim calls for Pioneers to pay a $590,000 annual fee and for that fee to increase based on the consumer price index.


Trustee Katy Santillan has been a vocal critic of Brim, stating she would like to see the board end the contract and bring in its own chief executive officer.

She declined to say Friday whether she will call for an end to the contract during today's meeting.

Trustee Leo Haggarty has been one of the most vocal supporters of Brim, stating the success of the hospital rests with the board continuing its relationship with the Portland, Ore.-based management firm.

Haggarty said not only does Brim supply chief executive and chief financial officers, there are support services Brim can supply to benefit Pioneers.

Pioneers has been struggling though a troubled financial period for two years.

Hospital officials said the troubles stem from two large construction projects that took longer to finish than expected — the building of a new emergency facility and women's and surgery centers.

The projects doubled the size of Pioneers, but delays caused a loss of revenue and forced Pioneers to tap into reserves.

In addition, Pioneers officials have pointed to a rough time in the hospital industry in general as a source of the problems.

A shortage of nurses and a reduction in the Medi-Cal and Medicare reimbursements through the federal Balanced Budget Act have hurt Pioneers, officials have said.

Pioneers has started to recover financially but Mendoza said last month the hospital took in less revenue than anticipated.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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