By Elizabeth Marie Himchak
Seven candidates, including three incumbents, are vying for three seats on the Palomar Health Board of Directors.
Each comes with a four-year term. The winners will be decided in the Nov. 6 election.
The public health district serves an 850-square-mile area and includes Pomerado Hospital in Poway and Palomar Medical Center in Escondido.
All candidates were asked to respond to a questionnaire by Pomerado Newspapers. Incumbent Linda Greer, a registered nurse; Jeff Griffith, a fire captain and paramedic; and John Neal, a registered nurse practitioner, did not respond.
a 74-year-old registered nurse, has served on the board for 12 years and been on the Palomar Health staff and management for 26 years. She lives in the Escondido/Valley Center area and was successful in her election bids in 2000, 2004 and 2008.
Bassett said she is married, has six sons, 17 grandchildren and earned her nursing degree plus a bachelor’s degree and a master’s in business administration.
When asked why she is seeking re-election, Bassett said “to continue planned growth, improve safety and satisfaction.”
She said the three greatest issues impacting the Palomar Health district are quality of care and satisfaction for patients, families, physicians and staff; planned growth with additional clinics and improved access for all communities in the district; and community wellness and education to have healthy communities.
“I have worked with the present board and have accomplished a great deal in the past three terms,” Bassett said. “(This includes) hiring a top notch nationally recognized CEO, keeping the financial bottom line positive, completing a state-of-the-art acute care hospital as well as four clinics with a fifth on the way, and made myself available to staff and community to facilitate problem resolution.”
Bassett said voters should select her because “I know the Palomar Health system from all perspectives ... (and) I trust the quality of the care and the compassion of the staff.”
She added, “the present board ... (works) well together for the benefit of the system, and although we do not always agree on every issue, we conduct ourselves with respect and positive, professional representation of PH at all times.”
• Retired Army Col.
is a 69-year-old Hidden Meadows resident. He has lived in the district for 11 years, is married with two grown daughters and four grandchildren. He last sought election to the board in 2010.
McColl said he has a Bachelor of Science degree from Georgetown University, master’s in business administration from the University of Santa Clara and graduated from the Command and General Staff College, Armed Forces Staff College and Army War College.
“Although the board’s elected body is rich in health care experience, it lacks the financial and business management skills that I have learned over my years of experience in the U.S. military, the private sector and in the public sector,” McColl said. “The future of Palomar Health will concern itself with paying for the $1 billion hospital, the remodel of both the downtown Palomar hospital in Escondido, the Pomerado Hospital, as well as the proposed expansion into the unincorporated areas of North San Diego County. I can bring my skills to the table in assisting the board in making the right financial decisions.”
McColl listed the district’s three greatest issues as the Affordable Health Care Act and its unknown impact on major segments of healthcare run by Palomar Health, method to pay the cost of the district’s expansion and providing quality care in a very competitive environment.
He said voters should know he retired as a colonel after a 28-year Army career, he worked in the public and private sectors, is currently the director of purchasing and contracting for the County of San Diego — which includes overseeing a multi-billion dollar portfolio on Health and Human Services Agency contracts — and he and his wife have served more than seven years in the Palomar Health chaplain’s office.
“I have the knowledge, skills and leadership ability to bring a different dynamic to the Palomar Health Board of Directors,” McColl said. “Since there is plenty of health care expertise on the current board, you also need (someone) who brings a different perspective and outlook to major decisions, that one tempered with financial and fiscal considerations.”
He added, “when you elect me ... you will have someone who champions the fiscal and financial health of the district, as well as one who truly wants the highest quality of care for all its citizens.”
Dr. Marcelo Rivera
is a 62-year-old Ramona resident who has lived in the district for 33 years and been on the Palomar Health board for 12 years. He has two adult children.
Rivera said he earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois and medical degree from Rush University Health Sciences. He was first elected to the board in 2000 and was re-elected in 2004 and 2008.
“I have the background, experience and passion to continue to work for the community and help lead Palomar Health into the future,” he said about seeking re-election.
He listed the district’s three greatest issues as “ensuring access to excellent, affordable, high-quality care focused on patient safety and quality service; expanding healthcare services in Poway, Ramona, Rancho Bernardo, 4S Ranch, Escondido, Vista, San Marcos, Rancho Penasquitos and Valley Center; (and) recruiting the best nurses and staff while maintaining positive staff morale and providing excellent patient service.”
Rivera said he wants voters to know “I am sincerely committed to improving our community. I have been a practicing physician ... for over 33 years. I have earned the respect of my colleagues by serving as Chief of Staff at Pomerado Hospital and have been recognized for my service as a hospital board member by the California Hospital Association, Association of California Health Care Districts and the American Hospital Association. The community has supported me in the past by electing me to the hospital board.”
He said voters should re-elect him because “in the 12 years I have served on the hospital board I have been part of a team that has successfully met the needs of our growing community. I have a proven record of success by completing new facilities in Poway, opening a brand new state-of-the-art hospital in Escondido, and developing urgent care and after hours services in San Marcos, Rancho Bernardo and Ramona. It will always be a priority of mine to focus on delivering excellence in patient care and outstanding service, provided in a compassionate, safe and fiscally responsible healing environment.”
Rivera added, “I genuinely care about the healthcare of our community and am always listening to their needs and concerns.”
Dr. Aeron Wickes
is a 59-year-old Sabre Springs resident for the past 25 years. He is married with three grown children and this is his first time seeking a public office.
Wickes said he earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his medical degree from the University of California, San Diego.
“I would like to see the hospital system continue to provide the best medical care, yet remain accessible to everyone in the community,” Wickes said when asked why he wanted to be elected to the Palomar Health board.
As for the district’s three greatest issues, Wickes said “increasing local population, increasing aging of the population and increasing costs of medical care.”
Wickes said he wants voters to know “I always try to do my best for everyone.”
As for why voters should elect him, Wickes said, “my experience as a primary care physician keeps me in touch with the changing needs of the community.”
Wickes added, “I promise to my patients that I will not decrease office hours while serving on the hospital board and that they will continue to have appointments available as needed.”