Jim Meyers, Alameda Health Care District Board
Jim Meyers, Alameda Health Care District Board
Why do you want to be on the Alameda Health Care District Board?
As a doctor of public health and throughout my health leadership career, I have an underlying driving force in my professional and volunteer work: I see health as much more than the absence of illness – I see it as community well-being. I believe in health equity for all - no matter one’s circumstances in life.
More than ever in recent history, our health care district board must be aware and attentive to all of the health needs of our community. Why? The current Alameda Health Care District Board of Directors recently relinquished fiduciary control of Alameda Hospital over to the Alameda Health System (AHS). This new system – centered out of Oakland’s Highland Hospital – now has oversight responsibility for day-to-day operations issues at the hospital.
So what does that mean for the role of the health care district board? Our board must insist on and defend funding to support our direct care needs through the hospital and funding necessary for our health and well-being priorities throughout the City of Alameda.
Our board must have the experienced officers who can represent all of our community’s health needs – insuring we control funds collected from our property taxes and we receive the community benefit from the tax-exempt status of our community hospital.
We need board officers that have significant experience in these new board priorities. I believe the board needs a much different set of credentials and experiences than it has among current officers to successfully accomplish its new mission.
I am the only person running against the incumbents. I want to be on the board because I have the experience for our new community-focused priorities - and the leadership commitment to help the board focus on those priorities.
What do you bring to the position?
I have spent a lifetime in health care leadership – both in hospitals and health systems – and in public health leadership helping communities build resilient well-being. I’d like to give back to my community through leadership on this important community health care district board. My family lives right here in Alameda. My kids go to preschool and public school here. Our health care providers are here. This is our community. This is our home.
The following highlights my experience and credentials supporting the new mission of our health care district board:
Current Occupation and Profession
• Alameda County Public Health Commissioner – I currently represent the City of Alameda and Alameda County District 3; chair, Veterans Health Committee.
• Doctor of Public Health – Professional consulting practice with clients such as the California HealthCare Foundation and the Safety Net Institute. Consultation areas include: public hospitals and systems, chronic care, health IT and strategic planning.
Other Experience and Credentials
• Board-certified healthcare executive (Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives) – Over 25 years experience in virtually all health administration departments including COO and CEO-equivalent positions with the U.S. military – including four years consulting with the Army Corps of Engineers leading hospital infrastructure projects. Additionally, credentialed in managed care as a professional in the Academy of Healthcare Management.
• Senior federal representative on the Northern California Healthcare Executives Regional Advisory Council – Senior CEO and leader council providing professional policy and issue sharing platform for health care executives in Northern California (five-year appointment).
• Professor/university faculty – U.C. Berkeley School of Public Health’s doctor of public health program, Baylor University health administration masters program, Trinity University. Taught courses on community health, business-case analysis, disaster preparedness, health IT, leadership, organizational behavior, and managerial epidemiology.
• Retired Air Force medical commanding officer – Executive director of the U.S. Military’s Northern California 269,000 member TRICARE Region; colonel and Senior Medical Services Corps Council member in the United States Air Force Medical Service. Subject-matter expert in population health including local and national military community well-being program leadership. Commanding officer of international disaster relief and country assistance missions. Senior Northern California Veterans Administration/Department of Defense joint healthcare planning group member.
• Vice-chair, local YMCA Board of Managers – Led board strategic management activities and community health improvement programming. Oversaw largest provider of public assistance programs outside of the city’s public health department.
• Board member, Ronald McDonald House – Including volunteer weekend manager.
• Content at-home parent – With my wife, Kate, parenting our 6- and 4-year-old children – splitting our work week so that one of us can care for our kids when they are not in school, and volunteering at our preschool and elementary school.
• Cancer survivor – just passed nine years cancer-free – with lots of patient experience along the way!
What do you think is the role of the board post-affiliation?
The overarching mission of the health care district needs to shift to a broader set of oversight areas:
1. Partnering with the Alameda Health System to provide equitable and sustainable direct care health services. Central to this partnership is our board advocating for the continued existence of the hospital as a central part of the fabric of our healthy community.
2. Leading successful partnerships between our city government, local businesses, and community residents to seek not just the absence of illness but true pursuit of community well-being.
If elected, what are your top three priorities as a board member?
I see the board needing to focus great effort over the next four years on four key areas:
• Building stronger ties to the local community – including the development of coordinated hospital, community, business and city/county government strategies for improving community health and well-being – our health care district provides stewardship for OUR parcel tax and hospital community benefit dollars – let’s make sure those dollars provide the most impact for OUR community.
• Building a sustainable business model with our new system partners – taking full advantage of the Accountable Care Act – while always being available to our most vulnerable Alamedans – and keeping our hospital an integral part of our community.
• Building partnerships across medical staff, support staff, and IT infrastructures with the new system partners.
• Building permanent solutions to infrastructure and preparedness deficits – our community hospital needs to be there for us when disaster hits.
In the wake of the affiliation deal with AHS, what role does Alameda Hospital play in meeting the health care needs of Alamedans and others, both as part of the community and AHS?
Our community hospital has the opportunity to become a leader in a vibrant and healthy Island community.
If our health care district board provides proper oversight and proactive coordination, our relationship with the new AHS can bring a more coordinated system of care for patients who use our hospital and use other AHS health services around the Bay Area. That should include connected electronic record systems across the new system of hospitals and clinics and much better coordination of the continuum of care – from birth to lab services to referral services to hospice care.
Alameda Hospital maintains a credentialed and high quality direct care “home” for many in our community. The care includes basic emergency services, inpatient care and outpatient surgical and medical treatment services and many specialty services, as most community hospitals of this size do.
However, our community’s hospital does not and should not provide ALL levels of care. The trick is knowing what is best for our multicultural and ever-changing community. It is the job of this health care district board to lead our community in making sure we are providing the services needed here – and coordinating, as needed, other services as part of or outside the new AHS.
What kind of services should the hospital, and the district, be providing to Alamedans?
The health care district board should provide an annual assessment of the health and well-being needs of our community. The assessment should include all health issues – not just direct care medical needs. It should include public forum for feedback, with special attention to health equity across all of our multicultural neighbors.
The board should then use that assessment to steward the provision of our community’s direct care needs with the entire Alameda Health System – most of the direct care to be provided in Alameda and some through the other larger hospitals and specialty clinics. If the assessment shows we need the services here in Alameda, the board should advocate and coordinate provision of those services here in Alameda.
Importantly, the board MUST move from the current medical care focus to a community well-being focus – a focus that does not ignore direct medical care needs but seeks opportunities to encourage Alameda’s leaders and community members to support health and well-being efforts – and that should drive the services provided by our hospital AND the health opportunities in our district.
What challenges and opportunities do the hospital and health care district face today?
The biggest challenge our board will face this next four years will be to move from a primary focus of hospital operations oversight to stewardship of the broader health and well-being needs of our community. Our board should take a leadership role in Alameda in defining our priorities, empowering our community to address them and building capacity throughout Alameda to support a more happy and healthy community.
The opportunities are really the most exciting part of the next four years. With a significant increase in insured patients through the Affordable Care Act, there is an opportunity to improve financial stability, cultural competency, and overall service at our hospital.
In partnership with Alameda County’s new public health planning process – of which I am a part – our community has a much better chance over the coming years to define our public health and well-being priorities and get increased county program support.
In partnership with the state, our government leaders have the opportunity to participate in Health in All Policies - a successful program for governing in a more health-focused way. I have been working with our state’s former health director and the Alameda Public Health Department on this new approach to government policies during this past year. It’s exciting – and worth participating in.
And finally, with the new development happening in the West End, there is an opportunity to influence a healthy built environment with our new Veterans Administration facility and grounds and the development of new parks, bike trails, neighborhoods, and merchant areas.