Directors of the Tulare Local Health Care District (TLHCD) are done interviewing candidates and could announce the district’s new CEO as early as next week.
Since September 24, TLHCD’s board of directors held four closed-session special meetings, each with the same agenda: discussion of potential litigation and “discussion and action” on the appointment of a new head executive for the district. The most recent of the special meetings, held on October 21, should be the last needed, says Board Secretary Xavier Avila.
“We’re just interviewing candidates for the CEO position,” Avila said. “Today (October 21), we wrapped up our final interviews. We’ll probably make a decision on who to go with at our regular board meeting next week.”
The next TLHCD board of directors meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 27 in the Evolutions Plaza Conference Room, 1425 E. Prosperity Avenue. The public may also attend via the web. The meeting’s details will be available 72 hours before the meeting at tularelocalhealthcaredistrict.org.
Avila said at least two dozen candidates applied for the position, a switch from when departing CEO Sandra Ormonde took the position. At that time, the hospital had closed its doors and was considering the bankruptcy it eventually pursued.
“A lot of people were worried we wouldn’t be in business,” Avila said. “No one wanted to start a job just to potentially lose it six months later.”
Ormonde, who will depart the CEO position at year’s-end, is a Tulare native who took over the CEO spot at the district in May of 2019.
The recovery the district made under the direction of Ormonde and the new board of directors, paired with the district’s management contract with Adventist Health to operate district facilities, including the former Tulare Regional Medical Center, has made the CEO position much more attractive.
“It’s nice because of the quality of the candidates,” Avila said. “So many people were afraid of the district when we first filled this position. Most of the candidates mentioned that they’d read about it in the paper. It’s positive history (now).”
Rumor Put to Rest
Avila seemed to deny the rumor district directors plan to name one of their own to the CEO position, a move that appears to present a conflict of interest.
“We’re a lot smarter than that,” Avila said.
Were the directors to make such a decision, Avila said they would only do so after consulting advisors and legal counsel to avoid conflicts of interest or other illegal outcomes.
“Let’s say hypothetically (the board voted to appoint a current director as CEO), we’ve had really good people present options to us regarding all our moves,” he said. “We wouldn’t do anything unethical. Our attorneys wouldn’t allow us to do that.”
No Candidates to Fill Empty Seat
While there were many eager to take on the CEO responsibilities for pay, so far no one has stepped up to fill the volunteer seat on the board of directors vacated earlier this month by District 3 Director Senovia Gutierrez.
Gutierrez resigned effective earlier this month, citing a change in address that will see her moving out of her district. Recently, the TLHCD board was forced to replace former member Steve Harrell after his election to the Tulare City Council created a possible conflict of interest for him.
The seat was filled by Phil Smith, who Avila says is the only person who applied to replace Harrell. They have no official takers to replace Gutierrez.
“We’ve got a few people kicking it around, but no one’s put their name in yet,” Avila said.
Those who wish to apply for an appointment to fill the District 3 seat can contact the district at (559) 685-3465.