California hospital names CEO as county considers single healthcare district

El Centro (Calif.) Regional Medical Center has been looking for a new leader since its CEO and CFO resigned in January. That search has come to an end, hospital officials said at an April 12 news conference. 

Pablo Velez, PhD, RN, will helm the hospital, which is an affiliate of UC San Diego Health. He has more than four decades of experience in the healthcare industry; most recently, he served as senior vice president and CEO of Chula Vista (Calif.) Medical Center, a 449-bed hospital belonging to San Diego-based Sharp Healthcare. 

Finding a strong leadership team has been a top priority for UC San Diego Health, its chief administrative officer, Matthew Jenusaitis, said at the news conference. The health system intervened to manage the hospital — operationally, clinically and financially — in February, and has been making "really good progress in terms of stabilizing ECRMC," according to Mr. Jenusaitis. 

Tomas Oliva, president of ECRMC's board of trustees, confirmed that a countywide healthcare district is still in the works. 

"The current status is that the bill is still in play," Mr. Oliva said at the conference. "It may be amended, but it is currently being scheduled for a hearing later this month for the first policy committee.

"All studies and all reports have shown that because of the population we have, because of the payer mix we have and because of the low rates of reimbursement for government-insured, that it is in the best interest of all Imperial County residents that we have a single district."

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