Four candidates are running for three seats on the governing board of Palm Drive Hospital, which for the first time in years has shown progress toward financial stability.
Because none of the three incumbent Palm Drive board members is seeking re-election, the five-member hospital board will have a new look.
The candidates are Marsha Sue Lustig, a retired Cotati planner and assistant to the city manager; Karen Webb, an attorney and Realtor; Sandra Debella Bodley, a retired nursing instructor; and Jim Maresca, a financial planner.
The candidates uniformly praise Palm Drive for the steps that have been taken the past two years toward financial stability, even as they discuss what they consider are their qualifications for the board post.
The district hospital, which emerged from bankruptcy just two years ago, has 270 full- and part-time employees and a $29.2 million budget that is supported by $4 million in parcel tax revenues.
Palm Drive has a new chief executive officer and an affiliation with Marin General Hospital and Sonoma Valley Hospital that gives it expertise, ways to share costs and access to more physicians.
Lustig, 55, of Sebastopol was community development director and assistant to the city manager in Cotati and was a member of the Sebastopol Planning Commission in the mid 1990s.
“I have worked in administration of a small city and I am familiar with what it takes to manage a small government agency,” Lustig said. “This hospital desperately needs consistency, and people with time and ability to care for it.”
Webb, 43, of Sebastopol is a family law attorney and a real estate agent in Sebastopol, who said she experienced how the health care system works for patients firsthand when her son contracted and died from a rare disease.
“I am a user whose life has been altered by the catastrophe of health care,” said Webb, who describes herself as a patient advocate. “I saw a side of health care that many doctors, nurses and practitioners do not see. That side is not seen on the board; that side needs to be represented.”
Bodley, 69, of Sebastopol taught nursing at Sonoma State University for 30 years, served as chairwoman of the SSU department and was also for a year the interim director of the Santa Rosa Junior College nursing program. She also has served on numerous Sonoma County health care boards.
“Health care and health care policy, especially the policies of prevention, access and affordability, are my passion,” Bodley said. “That is my perspective, being a health care provider, and knowing that things for small hospitals are not going to get easier with the Affordable Health Care Act. It will take more negotiations and problem-solving to keep small hospitals sustainable.”
Maresca, 69, of Guerneville has a private financial planning practice and also served as a consultant to Palm Drive while it was coming out of bankruptcy.
He has served as executive director of the Russian River Chamber of Commerce and served on the boards of the Monte Rio School District, Occidental Center for the Arts and the West County Community Services District.
“The hospital currently has junk bonds at 7.5 percent, and it is a good opportunity to call those bonds and replace them with investment grade bonds at a substantially better interest rate,” Maresca said. “And outreach to the west county beyond Sebastopol; the mentality is it is Sebastopol’s hospital. I don’t think people are as aware as they should be as to what sort of resources are available.”
You can reach Staff Writer Bob Norberg at 521-5206 or email@example.com.