Maricopa Medical Center: The Election You’ve Never Heard of Could Cripple the Hospital We Depend on

The most important political race in the state this year is one you know nothing about.

The five elected directors of the Maricopa Integrated Health System toil in unpaid anonymity. Yet their actions will determine the future of Arizona's only public hospital at a critical time.

And that's not hyperbole: The Maricopa Medical Center is struggling to keep its accreditation, yet one slate of candidates running wants to put the district on an extreme diet. Republican bigwigs paint this as an issue of fiscal responsibility, but to me, it looks instead like one of those penny-wise, pound-foolish nightmares.

Everybody wants to be on the board that runs the Maricopa Medical Center: former state legislators, bloggers — even one prominent lobbyist's executive assistant.
Peter Storch
Everybody wants to be on the board that runs the Maricopa Medical Center: former state legislators, bloggers — even one prominent lobbyist's executive assistant.

At a time when emergency rooms across the state are packed, cutting services at the county hospital would surely result in catastrophe.

And even though you probably have no idea what's at stake, insiders are buzzing. Three former state legislators, as well as the former directors of both the county and the state health departments, have thrown their hats into the ring. Rob Carey, best known as Grant Woods' top aide during Woods' tenure as attorney general, is also a candidate — and prominent GOP lobbyist Stan Barnes is actually running his executive assistant for a seat. Even Sheriff Joe Arpaio is making a cameo: He's made robo-calls and has been the guest of honor for at least one fundraiser.

As it turns out, most of the big names are lined up to stop the Republican-sponsored slate. Believe it or not, even the big Republican names are lined up to stop the Republican slate. That's how out of touch the party has become.

The health district race is actually one of the weirdest, most chaotic ones we'll have this fall. And that's why I'm so worried.

Is anyone out there paying enough attention to this circus to know what they're voting for?


Four years ago, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors spun off its neglected hospital district, making it a standalone entity rather than just another program under the supervisors' wing. County voters then elected a five-member panel to run it.

Overall, the panel has done a good job shoring up the district's financials, and the hospital is now in much better shape than it was when the Supes handed it off.

We could undo that with this election.

I first started paying attention to this race when I learned that Sheriff Joe and his evil little Igor, County Attorney Andrew Thomas, had endorsed some candidates for it. That seemed odd.

Then I read in the Arizona Republic that the Maricopa County Republican Party had endorsed a slate of five candidates without bothering to send out questionnaires or contact the Republican incumbents. As the Republic noted, two respected former GOP state legislators, Sue Gerard and Greg Patterson, also were running, yet the party hadn't bothered to contact them, either.

I don't know either of the two board members running for re-election. But I do know that Gerard and Patterson are not candidates to be taken lightly. Patterson writes the most influential blog in town, www.espressopundit.com. And Sue Ger­ard is the former director of the state health department — as well as that rare politician who's respected across the partisan divide. Gerard tangled with Governor Janet Napolitano while running the health department and ultimately resigned from her post, but you still can't find anyone in town who has a bad word to say about her. By all accounts, she's a straight shooter and a real professional.

So why would the GOP endorse a slate without even talking to Gerard or Patterson? It made no sense to me.

That's when I found out about Mike Albertson.

Albertson isn't on the ballot, though he might as well be. A GOP activist who's donated more than $4,000 to Republican causes in the past two years, he's shepherded this Republican "slate" through the details of running for office . . . and helped secure those party endorsements, too.

Albertson says he got involved because the county Republican Party wanted to make sure it had a candidate in every race. "I don't have any interest in the hospital," he insisted. "The issue is, you've got to get good people running boards."

But the truth is more complicated.

Albertson isn't just a party loyalist. He's also a former hospital executive — most recently at Sun Health — and current hospital consultant. In November, his two-person consulting firm bid on a $60,000 contract for the health district. When they didn't get it, Albertson lodged a formal protest.

Albertson insists that his failed bid has nothing to do with his interest in the healthcare district. But an e-mail Albertson sent to his slate of candidates in January raises serious questions about whether he really wants to help the medical center or destroy it.

The e-mail, with a subject line of "good story," linked to a recent New York Times story about hard times at the public hospital in Atlanta. As the Times reported, that city's safety net hospital has fallen into "financial crisis."

The story was an interesting one — and Atlanta's Grady Memorial Hospital does share some problems with the Maricopa Integrated Health System. It can't compete with private hospitals in the area, so it has a hard time attracting paying clients. But its poor neighbors need its care, now more than ever.

1
 
2
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
4 comments
NABH
NABH

I really appreciate your post and you explain each and every point very well.Thanks for sharing this information.And I’ll love to read your next post too.Regards:NABH

Juancito Trucupey
Juancito Trucupey

Please vote for the best qualified person in your district-I�ve listed those who have the expertise and desire for a successful operation:

District 1 Bil Bruno

Chandler Gilbert Mesa Phoenix (East) Queen Creek Sun Lakes Tempe

District 2

Rob Carey

Carefree Cave Creek Fountain Hills Gilbert Mesa Paradise Valley Scottsdale

District 3

Susan Gerard

Anthem Desert Hills New River Paradise Valley Phoenix (North)

District 4

CUENDET, GERALD Avondale Buckeye El Mirage Glendale Goodyear Litchfield Park Peoria Sun City Sun City West Surprise Wickenburg Youngtown

District 5 MAROVICH, JAMES M.

Avondale Buckeye Gila Bend Gila River Indian Community Glendale Goodyear Guadalupe Phoenix (west) Tolleson

Steven
Steven

The "slate" is absurd and trying to demolish the hospital but Greg Patterson is not much different. Gerard, Carey and Bruno are the ones you want if you want competence.

NoProp200
NoProp200

Unfortunately, Stan Barnes is also leading the �Yes on 200� campaign, which supports Prop 200 on this year�s ballot.

The �Yes� campaign is funded by the payday industry in order to get voters to protect their 400% interest rates for them � forever. This means the payday industry � will get to keep its interest rates regardless of what happens in the market place.

What�s sad is that in order to get support, the campaign has been trying to confuse voters by attacking its own businesses in TV ads and by mailing liar flyers (http://www.200isnoreform.com/l....

Voters � cut through the confusion and vote NO on Prop 200!

www.200isnoreform.com

 
Phoenix Concert Tickets

Around The Web

Loading...