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Our Opinion: Restoring order at Clinicas

April 29, 2002

It appears the Clinicas De Salud Del Pueblo board is taking proper steps to address the issues the nonprofit health care agency is facing and that is good, because Clinicas is an important entity in the Imperial Valley.

For a while it appeared Clinicas was crumbling under a lack of leadership, but there are signs that leadership is returning.

One key issue is whether there are members of the Clinicas board who have conflicts of interest and whether those board members should step down. The board, with the leadership of interim Clinicas Director Esperanza Sykora, has asked the agency's Sacramento-based attorney to review the conflict of interest matter.

From our understanding, that attorney has written a letter stating his findings. Sykora has that letter and, during a meeting Thursday, the majority of the board said it would abide by the lawyer's advice.

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On Wednesday a special meeting will be conducted to deal with the letter and its findings. If the attorney found some board members have conflicts of interest, we urge the board to do what it has said it will in abiding by the recommendations. That is an important step toward maintaining public and employee confidence.

Second, Sykora has laid out what appears to be a strong plan for hiring a permanent chief executive officer. That plan involves screening applications and using a five-member panel of people not involved with Clinicas to interview candidates. Only at that time would the board become involved in the process and select a final candidate. That candidate would then have to be approved by state and federal agencies.

With such steps, Clinicas could be on the way toward the healing process. And a healthy Clinicas is important, because it provides a variety of health care services to lower-income people in the Imperial Valley and beyond.

There may be difficult decisions in the near future, but if the Clinicas board strives to work toward the service of its service population that will move it toward a proper course to continue to meet community needs for years to come.

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