Issues

Below are frequently asked questions about Susan and the issues facing the West Contra Costa Healthcare District. If you have a question for Susan, please send it to susan@SusanSwift.org or call 510 486 2356.

Why are you running for West Contra Costa Healthcare District Director?

What is the West Contra Costa Healthcare District?

What is Measure D?

Didn’t Measure D fix the hospital’s financial problems?

What can be done to ensure Doctors Medical Center’s future?

What qualifies you for this position?

As director, how would you manage the hospital?

What will your priorities be once you are elected?

Why are you running for West Contra Costa Healthcare District Director?
For more than 30 years, I have dedicated myself to working on issues of importance to families: health and environmental protection, economic opportunity, youth and domestic violence, and education. My decision to serve on the West Contra Costa Healthcare District was inspired by local support for Measure D earlier this year and my honest desire to help the district provide the best possible healthcare resources for all the people of West County.

What is the West Contra Costa Healthcare District?
The West Contra Costa Healthcare District is a “special district” serving approximately 250,000 residents living in West Contra Costa County. The district directors “provide leadership and oversight in the delivery of healthcare in the West Contra Costa Healthcare District.” The WCCHD was established in 1948 and has overseen the hospital for fifty years. Geographically, the district encompasses five cities – Hercules, Pinole, San Pablo, Richmond and El Cerrito – and the unincorporated areas of West Contra Costa County, including Crockett, Port Costa, El Sobrante, Rodeo, and Kensington.

What is Measure D?
Measure D was a parcel tax measure passed in June 2004 by 84 percent of voters. The measure levies a $52 annual parcel tax to support the operation of Doctors Medical Center.

Didn’t Measure D fix the hospital’s financial problems?
Measure D was an important first step. It is estimated that the parcel tax will generate $6.1 million per year toward the hospital’s $150 million annual budget. In July, the hospital’s CEO, Irwin Hansen, issued $26 million Certificates of Participation (COPS) and sought loans to raise an additional $30-40 million to help put the district on the road to recovery.

While Measure D will help to stabilize finances in the short-term, some critical changes need to be made to ensure long-term sustainability of services and to generate the revenue needed to rebuild the hospital’s infrastructure.


What can be done to ensure Doctors Medical Center’s future?
While there is no simple answer to that question, I believe there are three critical steps the district should take to improve the hospital’s chance for survival. As your representative, I will champion each.

1.) Promote Excellence: I would work to effectively promote the excellence and responsiveness of DMC, especially the hospital’s under-utilized specialty centers (burn and wound care, cancer, labor and delivery, cardiac services, and orthopedics).
2.) Provide a Continuum of Care: I would facilitate cooperation between the hospital, the county health department and the Brookside Clinics to ensure a continuum of preventive and emergency services to the underinsured population of West Contra Costa County.
3.) Identify New Funding Streams: I would pursue a variety of local, state and national funding options, including “impact mitigation” agreements to secure contributions from entities that produce harmful social, economic and physical burdens on the West County population.

Let’s work together to secure the health services that West County deserves!

What qualifies you for this position?
Stabilizing the hospital financially cannot happen in isolation. The challenges faced by Doctors Medical Center San Pablo/Pinole exist within a national healthcare system that is broken. We need to think in the broadest terms to solve the problems at hand.

With many years of experience in policy, marketing, and public relations, I bring a breadth of skills that other board members do not possess. My relationships with legislators as well as community advocates, both locally and statewide, will be an asset to the district as we confront the challenges ahead.

Currently, I am a consultant, community volunteer, and student in financial planning, I have the experience and the time to be an effective director on the WCCHD. For more information about my background, see About Susan.

For more information about California’s healthcare crisis, check out California Healthline a free, daily news digest on hospital and health care policy.

As a director, how would you manage the hospital?
The board’s role is not to micro-manage or hijack the administration’s operation of the hospital. The board must safeguard the hospital as the public’s resource; directing policy and basing financial decisions upon that trust.

The stability of the hospital depends on its contracts with insurance companies and the utilization of reimbursable services. DMC needs more insured patients. The district should audit the quality of its services to ascertain that they are up to the high standards expected throughout the Bay Area. I would actively participate on any committees or task forces established to increase the hospital’s market share of insured patients.

What will your priorities be once you are elected?
As your representative, I will focus my energies on addressing three key issues:

1. Fiscal Stewardship
As a steward of public monies, my first priority will be to ensure that every dollar is spent wisely. In addition, I am committed to finding new ways to generate revenue and trim costs.

The problems we face are bigger than the district itself, and there will be times when political action at the regional and state level are required to secure funding and support for DMC. I would also advocate for the board to re-invigorate a Hospital Foundation and to engage in fundraising to complement the administration’s efforts to balance the budget.

Additionally, I would pursue “impact mitigation” agreements to secure funding from entities that produce harmful social, economic and physical burdens on the West County population.

2. Quality Services
The success of Doctors Medical Center rests on providing the highest quality of care to each and every patient. To do so, we must preserve competitive wages and benefits to attract and retain high-caliber health workers.

To attract new patients from the insured population, DMC must position itself as a competitor in the Bay Area’s healthcare marketplace. The hospital must promote its existing, high-quality services, especially the hospital’s under-utilized specialty centers (burn and wound care, cancer, labor and delivery, cardiac services, and orthopedics).

3. Responsive Communications
I am concerned about the lack of communications between the district and administration and the community at large. I want to ensure that the products and services delivered by DMC truly meet the needs and the standards of the consumers.

As someone with experience in the community as well as at the county and state levels of government, I see my role as that of liaison. I would work diligently to facilitate cooperation between the hospital, the county health department and the Brookside Clinics to ensure a continuum of preventive and emergency services to the underinsured population of West Contra Costa County.

In addition, personal outreach and interface with patients is required to serve our multicultural community with dignity and to provide quality services. I will look for ways to expand multilingual access, signage and interpreters, as well as creating a position of hospital ombudsman to respond to community concerns.

I will be always be an accessible advocate on behalf of West County residents.

Susan Swift


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