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Finalists chosen for hospital district board

Monday, July 12, 2004 by

City to begin interviews today; county set for Tuesday meetings

The City Council Health Care subcommittee will meet at noon today to begin interviewing 12 finalists for the Central Texas health care district board. Council Member Betty Dunkerley said Sunday that some of the potential board members would be interviewed today and the rest next Monday. Travis County Commissioners have scheduled interviews Tuesday afternoon with all 11 finalists they selected from their large pool. There will be one consensus appointment, with the city and the county each appointing four members to the nine-member board.

Three finalists made both lists, including attorney Clarke Heidrick of Graves Dougherty Hearon and Moody; Carl Richie, an attorney with Gardere Wynne Sewell; and Tom Young, a retired healthcare executive and part-time consultant.

Heidrick was the last chairman of the board of the United Way Capital Area and chaired the steering committee for the successful campaign for the health care district. In his application, Heidrick wrote, "I was asked by Mayor Garcia and Judge Biscoe to chair a task force appointed by them to study the feasibility of creating a hospital district for Central Texas. I feel that it is important that at least some of us who were involved in formulating the case for the hospital district and explaining it to voters be willing to serve on the district board. I believe this service will provide continuity and will also connect the initial board and its actions to the case presented to the voters in May of 2004."

Richie is a former board member of the city’s Housing Authority. He led a task force in 1991 that created the Texas Ethics Commission and served as the commission’s interim director. "At both the Housing Authority and the Ethics Commission, I examined and approved multi-million dollar budgets, operational policies and governing regulations. I represented the City of Austin during the passage of the legislation that authorized the creation of the Travis County Hospital District."

Young has served as executive administrator of Austin Regional Clinic and was administrator with Brackenridge Hospital (1985-89). He volunteered with the Peace Corps from 1966-68 in Senegal and was a lieutenant with the Medical Service Corps in the US Navy from 1970-73. He wrote, "Brackenridge and the community clinics that have been its partner in providing quality care for the indigent members of the community are at an important crossroads with the passage of the Hospital District proposal. There is an opportunity for a more stable and focused source of leadership and funding. However, there is also the risk of a new and inexperienced organization."

Ray Branson – He served as an administrator for the Midland hospital district.

Kathy Rider – a former AISD school board president, she is a licensed professional therapist with considerable experience.

(Joseph) Lynn Nabers – attorney, a member of the Texas House of Representatives from 1969-1982 (he served as chair of the Committee on Health and Welfare during the 64th Legislative Session), currently a lobbyist with Strategic Partnerships, Inc., married to former Railroad Commissioner Mary Scott Nabers(a co-founder of Strategic Partnerships).

Susan Milam – director of clinical affairs, MyDocOnline/Zix Corporation, a web-based application for use between physicians and patients. She is a former director of the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department and former chief of the bureau of Medicaid Managed Care of the Texas Department of Health. "In the early 1990s, when I was director of the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department, I worked with the City Manager, County Judge and other local officials in an effort to pass legislation that would allow what we then called a Health Services District. Despite our efforts, we were unable to achieve that goal, so the recent adoption by the voters of a Travis County Hospital District was very gratifying."

Susan Pascoe – consultant with Home and Community Services (provides strategic and organizational analysis, direction and implementation assistance to organizations providing home and community care services). "I am a registered nurse with more than thirty years experience in health care. During the early years of my career, I worked in hospitals and observed, even then, that community-based care should be the foundation for health care services. The Travis County Hospital District presents an opportunity to redesign care in our community to result in improved overall health and more efficient use of scarce public resources."

Dr. Donald Patrick – executive director, Texas State Board of Medical Examiners. He is a graduate of the Baylor University College of Medicine, 1962 and graduate of the University of Texas School of Law, 1996 (passed the bar in 1997). He is a former ER on-call neurosurgeon and was chief of the medical staff at Brackenridge in 1984. "I think I would bring a unique set of qualifications to the Travis County Hospital District—competent to deal with medical, EMS, regulatory, legal and fiscal issues. I bring a set of qualifications that are not purely medical, but include medicine as one of my strengths."

Frank Rodriguez – CEO, Capital Linkages, a management-consulting firm that deals with economic, financial and management studies for public and private sector clients (including the Texas State Comptrollers Office and the TABC). He is a former City of Austin employee. –He was administrator of management services (1983-85), overseeing legal, purchasing, budget, finance and economic development offices, as well as budget director (1981-83). "I believe my public and private sector background and experience provides me with the opportunity to be sensitive to the needs of the citizens of Austin and the goals of overseeing a well-managed organization."

Ben Sifuentes – retired hospital administrator. He is a former administrator for Southwest General Hospital and Robert B. Green Memorial Hospital, and was assistant administrator for Bexar County Hospital District (all in San Antonio). He is a staff Pharmacist with S&S Pharmacy in Austin and chairman of the Urban Renewal Board. "I am a native-born Austinite who is passionate about the delivery of health care services to the medically indigent."

The following are finalists in the city process:

Consultant Jason Cooke – a former director of Medicaid for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, he cites experience as a congressional staff member and consultant in Washington, D.C. "The successful inauguration of the Travis County Hospital District is a critical step in our community's addressing the health care needs of the uninsured and the insured alike. Participating on the Board of Managers will require creativity in achieving consensus among diverse interests in a way that builds on the expressed will of the electorate."

Dr. Thomas Coopwood – a retired trauma surgeon at Brackenridge Hospital, where he served as chief of staff and chief of surgery. "I am familiar with the problems faced by the hospital, community health and the new district. My practice took me to all of Austin hospitals, so I am familiar with the problems the hospitals have with the uninsured. I dealt with this as an ongoing issue as I was president of the Travis County Medical Society."

Dr. Camille Hemlock – Associate Medical Director, Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation. "I have extensive experience in indigent health care, both as a former staff physician at the East Austin Clinic, which serves people covered by the MAP program, Medicaid and Medicare, and in my current volunteer capacity at the Volunteer Medical Clinic, where I have volunteered for the past six years."

Victoria Hsu – executive director of the Texas Board of Professional Engineers (she retires this month). She previously worked for the TCEQ in the Air Permits Division(in charge of air pollution permits). She served on the City of Austin's Water and Wastewater Commission from 1986-1998. "I have recently decided to retire from the state system. I intend to continue serving the community at a different capacity. I believe my experience in the regulatory agencies can facilitate the initial establishment of the Hospital District. Some of the issues that are going to be under the jurisdiction of the board are dear to my heart, particularly the issues of health care."

Lynne Hudson – retired, former director of managed care operations at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. She also served as deputy associate commissioner for health care financing at the Texas Department of Health. She worked as a registered nurse and a nurse practitioner from 1969 to 1980.

Rose Lancaster – retired. She is a former executive director for Manos de Cristo, a Presbyterian ministry group that operates a dental clinic for low-income families in East Austin. She is currently on the steering committee of the Austin-Travis County Citizen's Health Care Network, and is also chair of the health committee for the Homeless Task Force. "Since moving to Austin in 1955, I have had an ongoing interest in accessible health care for Austin's populace, especially for women and for the indigent. It would be an honor and a challenge to be selected for appointment to the Hospital District."

Rosa Mendoza – CPA, R. Mendoza and Company. She is also a member of the Austin

Travis County Mental Health and Mental Retardation Center Board of Trustees, member of the Mexican American Cultural Center Board of Directors and member of the Community Action Network Council. "I have over twenty years of public accounting experience . . . These engagements have provided me with vast experience with governmental entities, health care, non-profit organizations and other commercial entities and include an extensive understanding of management operations, debt requirements and financial accounting and reporting needs. I believe in the mission of the Travis County Hospital District and would aggressively work with my fellow board members to achieve the goals and objectives of the organization."

Henry Narvaez – Community Liaison, Wright House Wellness Center (a community agency for assisting AIDS patients). He is also vice chair of the governing board of the Austin/Travis County FQHC. "I feel that I would bring a wealth of experience and knowledge from several points of view. I have worked within the hospital system as a nurse and have worked in several capacities, providing indigent care to the working poor and those in greater need of our health system and at present as a consumer of services from the system."

Dr. Catherine Scholl – anesthesiologist, Austin Anesthesiology Group. She was a ast President of the Travis County Medical Society. She is a member of the Hospital District Steering Committee. "As a practicing anesthesiologist, I continue to see the need for more organization in the provision of health care in Travis County. To maintain the high level of care in our area, we must be innovative and conscientious in determining how we will spend our health-care dollars.”

SOS urges CAMPO to stop toll road plan

When the CAMPO policy board meets tonight they could face a bigger crowd of angry people than they had anticipated. The Save Our Springs Alliance made numerous automated phone calls yesterday urging supporters to contact their elected officials who will vote on the proposed Central Texas RMA toll road plan.

Mayor Will Wynn and other board members have worked on amendments to address various concerns—including one that would encourage addition of “free parallel frontage roads” along with SH 45 Southwest.

That change is proposed to take place “under existing restrictions,” which were worked out between the City of Austin and Travis County with the US Fish & Wildlife Service to limit the addition of impervious cover over the Barton Springs Zone of the Edwards Aquifer. The amendment, proposed by County Judge Sam Biscoe and Hays County Commissioner Bill Burnet, seems to contradict promises made to not build frontage roads for SH45 when the highway went through the federal environmental assessment process.

Council Member Daryl Slusher said Sunday that he is concerned about that amendment, as well as one regarding funds generated by the toll lanes for MoPac. That lengthy amendment, sponsored by Wynn, Biscoe, Commissioner Karen Sonleitner and Senator Gonzalo Barrientos, says those funds could be used, among other things, to add toll lanes on MoPac from William Cannon to downtown and a toll expressway from Slaughter Lane to SH45.

Slusher said he has concerns about both of those amendments. Either one could result in more construction in the Barton Springs zone than had been originally proposed. In addition, building additional lanes through Zilker Park would certainly raise the ire of parks advocates. Slusher said he wondered if that meant the Central Texas RMA would then get condemnation power through the park.

However, he added, “The Mayor’s efforts have definitely improved the plan in a number of ways, including that it is a major step forward to have the RMA commit to retrofit. Once others added on to the amendments, however, there ended up being more pavement proposed over the aquifer than in the original proposal.”

In response to complaints from SOS, Don Martin of Martin & Salinas Public Affairs, sent the following statement to In Fact Daily : “What SOS fails to recognize is that every one of the roads in the toll plan has already had full public hearings, have been approved, and have been in the transportation plan for a long, long time. None of them are new proposed roads. The toll proposal instead provides a mechanism to fund these roads in our lifetime.”

Democrats gather funds for Sandlin. . . Austin Congressman Lloyd Doggett hosted a fundraiser for Congressman Max Sandlin last night at the home of former Mayor Kirk Watson. Sandlin, like Doggett, was one of the targets of redistricting. His district 1 and that of fellow Democrat Congressman Jim Turner, District 2, were divided into nine different districts, he said. Sandlin is now running in a Republican-leaning district that stretches far beyond the area Sandlin has served in the past. Sandlin told In Fact Daily he believes the effect of redistricting—if allowed to stand by the US Supreme Court—will be that the Voting Rights Act has no meaning. “There was a real attempt,” by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, “to tell African-Americans, Hispanics and rural citizens their votes don’t count.” Sandlin’s East Texas district includes the Republican stronghold of Tyler as well as Marshall and Longview . . . Mayoral assistant Matt Curtis attended the Sandlin fundraiser. He said he got to know the Congressman while both were waiting for a plane in a small airport hanger in East Texas when he was working for Tony Sanchez in his bid to be Governor. Curtis was also heard introducing both Lee Leffingwell and Chris Riley to another party attendee. Each has indicated he would like to run for the City Council next year . . . Cabela’s water plans . . . The sporting goods retailer hopes to open for business in Buda in 2005 and had planned to cap two wells on the old Rylander tract and drill a new one. But the retailer will likely have to use one of the old wells, because the deal the Nebraska company struck with Buda includes federal funds, and a caveat of federal environmental law that prevents new wells in environmentally sensitive areas. The retailer plans a 175,000 square foot retail center just south of the HEB in Buda along southbound I-35. Plans call for a five-acre retention pond stocked with fish. The Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District Board discussed the possibility Thursday night of Cabela’s digging deeper and using water from the Trinity Aquifer. Staff members were skeptical because of the Trinity’s high concentration of sulfates . . . Tonight . . . Besides the CAMPO meeting, there is a meeting of the Design Commission. It is scheduled for 5:45pm in the 8th floor conference room of One Texas Center.

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