Editorial: Valley Medical Center is the Proof that AG May Not Be Playing Politics
By Maria Hernandez, Former Candidate for County Board of Supervisor
The accusations made against Attorney General, Xavier Becerra is that he is playing politics in his opposition to the purchase of the two hospitals by the County. Maybe he is. But maybe he is not and is rightfully concerned about the failed administration of the hospitals under Jeff Smith’s autocratic leadership that puts patient care in jeopardy.
Look at the millions spent on lawsuits due to wrongful terminations at Valley Medical Center due to Jeff Smith’s incompetent and corrupt leadership of the County and his war against whistleblowers. The documented history of lack of accountability and transparency by the County Executive, which includes millions of dollars in missing hospital equipment, and the 20 year revolving door of nurses who leave for higher pay and employment benefits after 6 months of training at VMC, costing the County $80,000 per newly trained nurse, just to lose these nurses as soon as they are trained. VMC revolving door has for years created unsafe working conditions, endangered patient care and wasted millions of tax dollars, but despite of repeated pressure from VMC nurses and physician whistleblowers to end these dangerously unsafe work conditions, Jeff Smith and the County Board of Supervisors have for years deliberately ignored this vitally important matter. This problem, sadly still persist as the County is fighting to purchase O'Connor and St. Louise Hospitals.
Adding to the list is the hostile work environment at Valley Medical Center that extends beyond the main hospital. Take for instance Elmwood Correctional Facility where nurses are forced to endure a culture of bullying and retaliation. And this is a culture that is supported by the County’s leadership.
So speculation regarding Attorney General’s motives does not address the elephant in the room. In my view, the price that the County would pay to purchase the hospitals is a good value and I am supportive of nurses, doctors, and all medical staff from these hospitals that the County is trying to bring into the County through the purchase. I support patient medical access and quality care. Under different County leadership, the Attorney General’s objection would seem capricious and politically driven.
But given the long record of abuse, corruption, incompetence, and lack of accountability and transparency under the leadership of Jeff Smith and the County Board of Supervisors, who for years have ignored and condoned the chronic problems plaguing the County’s Hospital, the public and those deciding whether to allow the purchase of the O'Connor and St. Louise hospitals need to look at the underlying problems and well documented complaints regarding the County’s mismanagement led by Jeff Smith.
This mismanagement includes the termination of medical staff who are whistleblowers the trying to defend the best interest of public health and the public welfare.
It is not fair to both the medical staff and Santa Clara County taxpayers to continue supporting and subsidizing Jeff Smith and the County Supervisors corrupt, wasteful, incompetent, and hypocritical “Just Culture” that has punished doctors, nurses and medical staff for speaking up against the corruption and County’s malfeasance in Valley Medical Center while endangering employee and patient safety No one should be above the law, especially when they have a long history of violating it.