WE MEET CANDIDATES FOR MORONGO BASIN HEALTHCARE DISTRICT BOARD

Four candidates are running for the board of directors of the Morongo Basin Healthcare District: Incumbent Dianne Markle-Greenhouse, who is being challenged by Greg Brown, Denise Cullum, and Dale Mondary.  Managing editor Tami Roleff gives a brief highlight of the candidates…

Greg Brown says the healthcare district has two challenges: COVID-19, and access to healthcare. His top priority is to improve access to healthcare while remaining fiscally responsible.

Denise Cullum says the biggest challenge is to change the mortality rates and the disparity of maternal deaths among people of color, and her priority is to help the economically disadvantaged and give them equal access to quality healthcare.

Dianne Markle-Greenhouse says the top challenge is getting residents to use services offered by the healthcare district, and her top priority is to continue the search for physicians to staff the clinics.

Dale Mondary says the biggest challenge to the healthcare district is recruiting and maintaining qualified medical staff, and says the district needs to expand the services it provides so that residents will not “go down the hill” for their healthcare. His top priority is maintaining the balance between funding these services and building a healthy reserve fund.

Unedited responses from the candidates follow (in alphabetical order):

Gregory Brown

GREG BROWN

1. Why are you running for election/re-election?

I have worked as a Registered Nurse in the community, and witnessed some of the challenges facing the district first hand. For example: aging population, uninsured and underinsured residents, and the addiction and mental health crises, as well as poverty and being widely dispersed in remote areas all increase the challenges to achieving adequate healthcare. I would like to use my experience, both as a registered nurse and through years of management and budgeting in the Marine Corps, to help improve healthcare for our community.

2. What do you see as the biggest challenge/problem facing the health care district?

Today COVID-19 is the biggest challenge facing the healthcare district. However, prior to COVID-19 (and sure to be the case after COVID-19), the biggest challenge facing the healthcare district is access to adequate healthcare. Far too often the emergency room (ER) is used as healthcare, but that is not the role of the ER. The ER is intended to provide urgent/emergent treatment—a one-time fix. Healthcare encompasses education, diagnosis, treatment, follow-up, and continuity of care with the goal of improving quality of life and resolution of disease. Additionally, data shows that the ER is costly (more expensive than urgent care, clinics, and a doctor’s visit) and for the uninsured and underinsured can easily lead to bankruptcy. On top of that, the lack of continuity of care increases the likelihood of poor outcomes.

3. What’s your top priority as a board member?

My top priority as a board member is to enhance access to healthcare and improve healthcare outcomes while also remaining fiscally responsible. Contrary to popular belief, these objectives can coexist! Simply hoarding or spending money does not determine responsible management—particularly when done as a knee-jerk reaction. Fiscal responsibility in healthcare is driven by research and return on investment (ROI).  Data shows that it’s far less expensive to provide preventive care early than it is to wait for illness to progress to requiring surgical intervention and hospitalization. 

4. If you could change anything (with a magic wand) what’s the one thing you would change about the hospital/healthcare district?

If I had a magic wand I would increase the size and capability of the hospital. While it’s a good facility, as a result of the limited capabilities of the Hi-Desert Medical Center, many residents are forced to leave the community (go down the hill) for medical services. Having to go down the hill creates a burden on the patient and family, and is potentially dangerous as delayed treatment is associated with poorer outcomes. Limited capability can also affect our ability to retain personnel. Healthcare workers seeking to expand their knowledge and growth may feel inclined to leave the hospital for another that offers more exposure and opportunity, essentially making this hospital a career launching point, with staff members in constant flux. Of course, the magic wand is assuming the community is capable of supporting such a hospital (e.g., has the wealth and/or level of insurance to cover the costs of specialty treatments and larger staff).

Also, do you have a website or FB page? Email or phone number for people to contact you?

My Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/Vote4GregoryBrown/, and my email is info@Vote4GregoryBrown.com.

Denise Cullum

DENISE CULLUM

1. Why are you running for election/re-election?

I am running for election to the Healthcare District Board because I am concerned about Healthcare for our community.  I am impressed with the programs that have been offered by the Healthcare District and want to be a part of the future programs that will continue to provide equal access to Healthcare.

2. What do you see as the biggest challenge/problem facing the healthcare district? 

Ensuring that the Communities served have the opportunity and take advantage of the programs available.  Doing our part in the Desert to change the startling statistics regarding the mortality rate and disparity of maternal challenges of women of color during their childbearing years.  Champion the cause to uncover this travesty and educate/raise awareness to what is happening to our mothers and babies. Newborns of any race should have equal access to the best care to ensure preventable complications during their formidable years (0 – 5 years old) no matter where they receive their care.

Marketing of the programs offered.  I had the opportunity to tour the facility here in 29 Palms when it opened.  I gathered the literature to share if asked or needed.  Some months later a few of our employees needed healthcare but were unable to afford care.  I shared the information that I gained from the Healthcare site so that they could receive care.  I was surprised that they were unaware of the programs offered to give them quality healthcare, and this was months after the facility had been open.  I still find this to be true.

3. What’s your top priority as a board member? 

Insure the solid financial management of the funds given to the Healthcare District.  It is important that funds allotted to programs align with the Districts mission and vision.  Championing more programs that help the economically disadvantage and give them equal and quality access to quality healthcare.  

4. If you could change anything (with a magic wand) what’s the one thing you would change about the healthcare district

Healthcare would be the same for everyone across the board, regardless of race, creed color or social economic background.  This isn’t anything magical, this should be standard for all who live in Morongo Basin.

Also, do you have a website or FB page? Email or phone number for people to contact you?

My email is accts.cull@gmail.com

Dianne Markle-Greenhouse

DIANNE MARKLE-GREENHOUSE

1. Why are you running for election/re-election?

As an incumbent candidate, I’m proud to have several years of experience on the Board of Directors. Re-election is a promise to the future for the communities we serve.

2. What do you see as the biggest challenge/problem facing the healthcare district? 

A current challenges is encouraging the public to utilize our many service lines of care.

3. What’s your top priority as a board member?  Insure the solid financial A top priority is to continue the search for physicians to staff the clinics,

4. If you could change anything (with a magic wand) what’s the one thing you would change about the healthcare district

Magic Wand Changes: simply that people know we are here to help!

Contact through Factor page messenger:
                                Re-elect Dianne Greenhouse for
                                Morongo Basin Healthcare District

Dale Mondary

DALE MONDARY

1. Why are you running for election/re-election? I was approached by some members of the Healthcare District gauging my interest in running for a seat on the board. I began researching the role and responsibilities as well as actions taken by the board over the last few months and also started attending the meetings. I spoke with my wife Danette about this as well as other trusted individuals who have knowledge and experience about the board and they supported me and encouraged me to run. I have been a member of the Morongo Basin, and the Healthcare District for 28 years. I have been an active member of the community in various roles professionally as well as  many civic, volunteer organizations. I know that my time in law enforcement, in management positions,  has prepared me for this role. I have always met budget goals and worked at the Sheriff’s Bureau of Administration, where I assisted with their $450 million budget as well as coordinating capital improvement projects for the Department. Because of Danette’s role in healthcare in the Basin I am familiar with the Healthcare District, a vast number of employees of the District, Board members and the overall healthcare operational needs of the community.

2. What do you see as the biggest challenge/problem facing the health care district?  I believe there will be a number of challenges over the next few years including, but not limited to;  strengthening the infrastructure, finding funding opportunities, and planning fiscally for the future by building the fiscal reserves to name a few. But the biggest challenge is recruiting and retaining qualified medical staff. I don’t mean just general practice and speciality Doctors, but Nurse Practitioners, RN’s, LVN’s, Medical Assistant’s and other professional office staff, but most specifically a new CEO when the current CEO, Jackie Combs, retires next year. We have to expand the services that we offer and the areas of the District that we offer those services. We need to provide the services and the service area that serves our citizens to the best of our ability. Many of our customers travel down the grade to receive services that is burdensome to them. If we, as the Healthcare District, can offer those services local we are better serving our community and keeping the funding local as well.

3. What’s your top priority as a board member? Being fiscally responsible and prudent. We must build our fiscal reserves to serve us over the next 25+ years. While Tenant is currently operating the Hi-Desert Medical Center under a contract there is an out clause. With the amount of money in current reserve, If they were to opt out of this agreement (and there is no indication that will happen) the District could operate the hospital and clinics for maybe 18 months before running out of money. We have to prioritize funding and spending and meet that delicate balance of remaining current and relevant while building a healthy reserve for a rainy day fund. My top priority will be working with the other Board Members collaborative to meet todays needs and tomorrows goals.

4. If you could change anything (with a magic wand) what’s the one thing you would change about the hospital/healthcare district? I do not believe in making change for the sake of change. While there are things that I am sure I would like to see done in a different manner that change should only come with consultation with all the stake holders; employees and clients to determine how we can best operate. Again, while I don’t have any preconceived idea of making change just to make change, by the same token I do not believe in “well this is how we have always done it.”  That is not a proper response as we should have the historical knowledge of why something is being done the way it is, with the open mindedness that there might be a better way to operate. I would have to assess specific areas of operations before I could give a reasonable answer on what needs to be changed.

Also, do you have a website or FB page? Email or phone number for people to contact you?  I do not have a political Facebook page but I have a personal page that anyone can reach out to me or they can reach me at dalemondary@gmail.com

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