Our Opinion: Clinicas: Time to think rationally

April 01, 2002

This is a call for calm in Clinicas De Salud Del Pueblo, because there are so many people who depend on the nonprofit health care agency's services throughout the Imperial Valley and beyond.

The future of the agency may be getting shaky. And that is bad news for the beneficiaries of the services Clinicas provides.

Amid the chaos that was the Clinicas' board meeting Thursday night, five of 14 board members resigned. Those resignations come as Clinicas has no director, plus Clinicas could be facing some penalties from the state based on failing to meet provisions of a loan agreement.

Clinicas needs experienced leadership now. For that reason we think those five board members who resigned did so mistakenly. Yes, we understand there was a lot of pressure from employees to do so and much animosity on the board, mixed with a sense of bewilderment, but resignations will not solve the problem. In this case we think they will make tough times even more difficult.


The decisions made Thursday, for the most part, were done in the heat of the moment and if calmer minds had prevailed, a way out of the quagmire might have been found. Now the confusion has become worse, and it could take some time before Clinicas can rise beyond this massive division.

Still, if allegations are proven that some board members have a conflict of interest, as per the agency's own bylaws, they should step down.

Putting aside that issue for a moment, the board had a job to do Thursday, and those who resigned did not do it by walking away. Leaving may have appeared noble, but showing leadership amid the controversy would have been even more noble.

Those nine board members who did remain selected Esperanza Sykora, the agency's longtime business manager, as the interim director. She did not fully accept the position. She first wants to see if the management of the Clinicas clinics will support her. We don't blame her.

It is surprising that an organization as large as Clinicas did not have a second in command, so if the director ever stepped down or had to take a leave, there would be no question who would take the helm. We also are surprised that Clinicas has not had local counsel in place. Instead, attorneys representing the agency have been based outside the Valley. Now Steven Walker of El Centro has been hired by the board. He is an attorney with a lot of experience in representing government agencies.

The question for Clinicas is what happens next? We are sure there will be more fighting as employees continue to push for the remaining board members to resign. If those board members have a conflict or have abused their authority, they should step down. If they have not, then all parties must begin to rebuild.

There are many problems and only through leadership and unity will Clinicas survive this time.

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