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District braces for major changes to health care
February 20, 2013, 05:00 AM Daily Journal staff report

Elected officials with the Sequoia Healthcare District are bracing for uncertainty as they grapple with the implications of the federal Affordable Care Act and whether new strategies should be developed as it supports the health-care needs of residents in southern San Mateo County.

The board recently reorganized with Dr. Jerry Shefren being appointed president to take over for Kim Griffin and Art Faro being named vice president. Katie Kane was also renamed the district's secretary-treasurer at its Feb. 6 board meeting.

At the same meeting, the district's Chief Financial Officer Lee Michelson reported that the district last year spent $10.3 million on programs while collecting $8.3 million in tax revenues. A contractual payment from Dignity Health, operator of Sequoia Hospital, and reserves provided the balance of spending, he reported in his State of the District speech.

Dignity Health is the new name for the former Catholic Healthcare West which bought Sequoia Hospital from the district in 1996.

Shefren praised the district's recent direction in terms of tighter controls on how grants are given and pledged careful oversight of taxpayer money.

"As for the future, in the next two to three years the board has to understand the implications of the Affordable Care Act and how it affects the care-delivery systems in the district which may require changes in our strategy. We have to make sure that our activities are in sync with the major changes that will be occurring in health care," Shefren wrote in a statement.

Faro wants to make sure as many residents as possible have access to critical health-care services.

"There are many loopholes in our health care delivery system. As best we can, the district should ensure that no citizen in our district goes without preventive and curative care," Faro wrote in a statement.

Jack Hickey, who has consistently called for the district's dissolution, rounds out the board.

The district provides major funding to numerous nonprofit community health organizations that directly assist more than 50,000 women, children and seniors in the district, which includes the cities of Atherton, Belmont, Menlo Park, Portola Valley, Redwood City, San Carlos, Woodside and portions of San Mateo and Foster City from Skyline Boulevard to the Bay.

In other health care news: Sequoia Hospital announced yesterday that it is one of the nation's 50 best hospitals for 2013 as measured by Healthgrades, an online resource that helps consumers search, evaluate, compare and connect with physicians and hospitals. Healthgrades evaluated nearly 4,500 hospitals nationwide -- reviewing and analyzing clinical performance across 27 common procedures and diagnoses -- to determine the nation's best performing hospitals based on objective measures of clinical quality. To be recognized with this distinction, according to Healthgrades, hospitals must have had risk-adjusted mortality and complication rates that were among the lowest 5 percent in the nation for a minimum of seven years. This is the first year that Sequoia Hospital has achieved this designation.

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