Does Mikey like it?

Editorials

It’s part of the American compact that citizens expect those sent to law-making bodies to represent their wishes.
And legitimate differences of opinion notwithstanding, that’s how it should work—sometimes we are happy with stands taken by our elected representatives, sometimes not. The seesaw of who’s in power and what gets done as a result is one of the strengths of the system. It’s messy but it’s all we have and it has worked for the most part.
On the issue of to sell or not to sell medical facilities in Gilroy and Morgan Hill to the anointed buyer, county supervisor Mike Wasserman, it seems, has made the County of Santa Clara his number one priority at the possible expense of his District 1 constituents in Gilroy, Morgan Hill and San Martin.
The good folks of South County now have quick access to St. Louise Regional Hospital in Gilroy and De Paul Medical Center in Morgan Hill, both owned by Daughters of Charity Health System. The drive for emergency care for, say, a heart or stroke patient, can be counted in life-saving minutes.
But the two major medical facilities are, for all intents and purposes, in de facto bankruptcy, spent by very caring nuns and their advisors unto the brink of financial hell by treating so many patients who cannot pay. So, the fact appears to be that St. Louise and De Paul will be sold or close their doors.
A buyer, Prime Healthcare, was chosen from bidders that included Santa Clara County, from which Mr. Wasserman draws a paycheck. But the county only wanted to buy the two South County facilities and O’Conner Hospital in San Jose and the good sisters want to sell a package of six of medical complexes. Prime will buy the package.
So, Mr. Wasserman since at least October when the chosen buyer was announced has been faced with the question of how best to represent constituents in South County—should he support the sale to Prime, as many do, or oppose it, as many others do? Or support it with conditions, the other option.
Mr. Wasserman has done none of those. At least that’s what he wants us to believe. And if we do, then he can say that he didn’t disappoint either side, a seemingly nifty political move that would be tout-able if he runs again for his or higher office.
What he does support, adamantly, is the sale of St. Louise, De Paul and O’Conner to Santa Clara County, his employer.
He says that only the county can run the facilities best. He says he has been consistent, too; that on this issue he has said from the get-go that he wants what is best for constituents.
If only the county can run things best, and if he wants only the best, the logical conclusion reasonable people would make is that Prime cannot deliver the best service so it should not run the places—ergo the sale to Prime should not proceed.
And if that sale is killed by the state attorney general, who has final say and will decide by Feb. 20, then the nuns’ system says it will probably go into bankruptcy. That raises the specter of imminent closure of St. Louise and De Paul unless of course the Daughters decide that rather then sell all of its facilities or go bankrupt, it will break up the system and sell off parts of the business piecemeal.
And that would put the county back in the running. Indeed, if DCHS is forced into a bankruptcy sale, the county could pick up the three for a song.
The county currently loses around $200 million running its hospitals and clinics—according to Robert Issai, DCHS president—which are paid for and operated with tax dollars paid by county residents.
And if the county takes over, current county employees would get first crack at all jobs at St. Louise and De Paul, according to DCHS.
Asked repeatedly this week about his stand on the sale to Prime, Mr. Wasserman fell back each time on his consistency in wanting the best service for residents.
Has Mr. Wasserman put politics and the entity of tax-sucking county government and its expansionist dreams ahead of the needs of South County residents and their right to have a representative willing to take stands on hard issues?
As much as he has convinced himself otherwise, something in that is out of kilter; it’s time to take a stand, one way or the other.

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