California hospital board stands behind CEO, president says

The president of the board overseeing Hollister, Calif.-based Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital is showing support for the hospital's interim CEO following a no-confidence vote last month.

In a letter to the editor, published on July 13, San Benito Health Care District Board President Jeri Hernandez expressed her full confidence in the interim hospital CEO, Mary Casillas.

"Over the last few weeks, a small but vocal group in our community has continued to call into question the performance and legitimacy of the district's interim CEO, Mary Casillas," the letter begins. "Let me assure you that the San Benito Health Care District Board fully supports her and has no plans to make any changes to our executive team." 

Ms. Hernandez went on to say that "while this group claims decisions were made behind closed doors, the record shows a very public and well-documented process. In fact, the appointment was covered by local publications at the time and can be easily reviewed through the archives."

The San Benito Health Care District Board named Ms. Casillas, COO, as interim CEO last fall. 

Ms. Hernandez said then-CEO Steve Hannah decided to hire Ms. Casillas as COO after she resigned from the board of directors. 

Last fall, the finance committee and board determined Ms. Casillas to be the best candidate to fill the vacancy created by Mr. Hannah's departure, based on her qualifications and experience, which include more than 27 years of hospital and healthcare administration experience, as well as a master's degree in healthcare administration, Ms. Hernandez said.

"Subsequently, given the declaration of fiscal emergency, and the enormity of the tasks before the board, the board deferred any search to fill the permanent CEO position, and has supported Ms. Casillas continuing in this interim role," Ms. Hernandez said.

The San Benito Health Care District board voted in May to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, citing a need to "tackle the systemic challenges it continues to face."

During her tenure, "Ms. Casillas and her team, along with our board, have managed to not only shore up finances, but to keep the hospital open to the community to provide life-saving care," Ms. Hernandez said. "Mary is the best person for this job."


Ms. Hernandez's letter comes after members of the California Nurses Association voted "no confidence" last month in both the Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital board and the administration. Union members have argued that the bankruptcy filing was a drastic and unnecessary step. The hospital has rejected the claims.

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