In Saturday’s edition, a front page story diagnosed more of the Antelope Valley Hospital’s symp­toms and the pros­pects are increasingly dire.

The planned transfer of assets from the Antelope Val­ley Healthcare District, which governs Antelope Valley Hospital, to a non-prof­it corporation created to operate the hospital may not occur before a Dec. 31 deadline.

The governing board of directors may consider taking a different route than the one approved by voters in November 2017.  Measure H was intended to provide greater stability for the hospital governance by turning management of the hospital over to a non-profit corporation with a nine-member governing board.

It was to include the five elected directors of the healthcare district, three ap­pointed community mem­bers and the hospital chief executive officer.

The structure was intended to provide benefits of operating the hospital as a non-profit entity, with greater stability through a larger board directing it.

Interim CEO Paul Brydon, who took the po­si­tion on Oct. 31, said, “Un­for­tunately, when I got here I could see the laundry list of things that had to be completed by Dec. 31. I could see there was no way on God’s green Earth that we could actually do that.”

On Nov. 20, CEO Mi­chael Wall and CFO Colette Nich­­ols resigned.  They had been placed on paid ad­min­istrative leave on Oct. 17.  Investigations con­tinue into possible improprieties, but the exact nature of the al­le­gations has not been dis­closed by either board.

The governing board previously fired three chief executive officers in five years.

In Sunday’s edition, it was reported that the An­tel­ope Valley Healthcare District and Antelope Val­ley Hospital, Inc, will pay nearly $1 million in sev­er­ance packages to Wall and Nichols, after the district determined it did not intend to terminate either contract for cause as stipulated in their contracts and both resigned.

During the district’s board meeting on Wed­nes­day, board Pres­i­dent Kris­tina Hong an­nounced the dis­trict “did not intend to ter­min­ate for cause with­in the language of the contract” for Wall and Nichols.

Hong said that “We will be going on a search” for new executives.”

She said the hospital’s operations are continuing with­­out interruption through the change in ex­ec­utive leadership, with pen­ding projects continuing as planned.

“Business is still going on as usual,” she said.  

In the Nov. 6 election, voters failed to approve a $350 million bond measure, which required a two-thirds vote to be implemented. The measure received a 63.9% Yes vote, a few percentage points shy of the 66.66% requirement.

Brydon said that without provisions in place to pre­serve the hospital’s revenue streams amounting to $30 million monthly, the hos­pital will be out of cash in six months and will be out of compliance with its bond agreements in four months.

At a Wednesday night meet­ing, the problems were dis­cussed by the Antelope Val­ley Healthcare District and Antelope Valley Hos­pit­al Inc. board, but no action was taken.

“This is awful,” Director Dr. Don Parazo said in strongly opposing pro­ceed­ing with any board decision that night, wanting more time to study and better understand the complicated issues.

Among the items to be completed prior to the transfer is for the corporation to obtain its hospital license, which was applied for earlier in November but may take six months to complete.

Without a license, the cor­poration cannot lease the hospital from the district.

Painful options provided to the district are to create an agreement with the corporation to delay or even suspend the transfer, or to terminate the transfer agreement, based on unanticipated issues that have been identified.  The healthcare district may also dissolve the corporation completely, as permitted in the bylaws.

Another alternative would be to request leg­is­lation that would expand the size of the healthcare district board in order to build the stability promised in Measure H.

The mounting problems are extremely disturbing to Antelope Valley residents who expect the hospital to fully prepared when their personal health problems occur.

At the start of the 1950s, local leaders and supportive residents put together a workable plan that resulted in opening the hospital in 1955 after a two-year construction period.

We urge the hospital hierarchy to get its act to­geth­er soon and continue to provide an institution that can treat illnesses, in­jur­ies  and save lives, a responsible mission that must be upheld by avoid­ing divisiveness and con­cen­trating on intelligent so­lu­tions to these enormous problems.

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