The Coast News Group

Tri-City adding outreach meetings to districting process

REGION — Tri-City Medical Center has embarked on the process of district zone elections, which will divide the health care district into seven zones that will each be represented by a board member who resides within the zone.

Currently hospital board members are elected at-large. The public process to change to district zone elections began in August. At the past two board meetings the public was given an overview of the districting process and public input was collected.

At the Sept. 28 meeting several area residents shared their questions and concerns. Victor Roy of Oceanside asked that public outreach meetings be held in Oceanside, Vista and Carlsbad to facilitate more community involvement in the process.

Roy said he wants to ensure the process is transparent and easily accessible to residents. He said he believes the focused outreach meetings will prompt more attendance than monthly board meetings that addresses numerous items.

The board agreed to hold three outreach meetings in November. Exact dates and locations of the meetings have not been determined.

The next immediate step in the districting process is for the hired on-project demographer to share drafts of district zone maps at the October board meeting. Discussion and adoption of a final map is anticipated to take place in December.

Jim Dagostino, board chair, said the timeline to adopt a district zone map is not set in stone. Ample time remains before the next board elections.

“TCHD is on target to have maps for redistricting approved by the latest March 2018,” Dagostino said.

The first district zone elections will take place in November 2018. Three board members will be elected under the new rules. In November 2020 the remaining four zones will hold board member elections.

Another wrinkle in the process is that the regional hospital may annex two more areas. To address possible boundary and population changes two maps will be adopted. One map will reflect boundaries and population counts “as is,” another will reflect proposed changes.

The seven district zones will have about 49,000 residents each. Consideration will be given to keep communities of interest together.

The board voted to adopt district zone elections after the threat of a lawsuit by a Malibu attorney who charged district elections provide a fairer representation of constituents. Numerous regional cities and school districts have switched to district elections because of the attorney’s pending lawsuits.

Dagostino said he has not heard a “plausible explanation” of why district elections provide a better voting process for the health care district, but he will help see through the process adopted by the board.

“Health care delivery is controlled by EMTALA type laws and therefore you must treat all citizens and noncitizens equally,” Dagostino said. “I do not know how choosing directors from pockets of citizens is a benefit to the delivery of care at Tri-City.”

Tri-City Medical Center is a tax supported hospital that receives about $8 million a year in tax revenues from Oceanside, Vista and Carlsbad. The remainder of the hospital’s $320 million annual revenues come from insurance reimbursement.