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Henry Mayo pros doing a good job

Posted: October 13, 2008 9:14 p.m.
Updated: December 15, 2008 5:00 a.m.
This is my view of the Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital master plan process and can thus be challenged, but I would ask those who know of me to consider my knowledge and credibility in comparison to those who dispute it.
For 25 years I have fought to bring excellent cancer care and top quality cancer doctors to the Santa Clarita Valley. As an oncologist, I have dealt most of my professional life with trying to help my patients distinguish pseudo-science and quackery from real science.
Dealing with the master plan process has been surprisingly similar.

We have spent three years presenting clear and logical proposals in a professional manner.

It is certainly appropriate that the community weigh in on this and require changes, possibly even dramatic ones, as in this case.

It is also expected that looking that far into the future may frighten immediate neighbors, and that there would be the scattered eccentric folks sensing an opportunity for power and the limelight.

But it does not speak well of the process that it has included so much viciousness and disinformation. It is about as honorable as profiting by treating cancer with phony medicines from your spice rack.

A lay person does not, in fact, have a contribution equal to a cancer specialist's in deciding how to save someone's life.

Community activists do not, in fact, have as much expertise as health care professionals and city planners.
Thus the whole debate has been hijacked to things like G&L conspiracy theories.

Especially galling are the personal attacks on our CEO, Roger Seaver. I was a member of the board of directors and participated in the selection process for his position.

He was recommended by our briefly-tenured but excellent president at the time, Jim Yoshiioka, who longed to return to Orange County.

Roger was and is extremely smart, honest, personable and visionary. His background is strong in finance and strategic planning.

He is respected throughout California as one of the best. He has taken the hospital from bankruptcy to a positive net of $6 million to $9 million a year, all of that income used for catching up after years of inadequate funding.

When his team presented the concept of a master plan to the board and the medical staff, it fit with his expertise and made great sense to those of us who experienced the problems (which still exist) from previous haphazard building. It was well received by almost all of those of who use the hospital, and it had been requested by the city.

It has been a shock, then, that a prolonged, tortured and expensive process of getting approval of the master plan has taken place, diverting the energy of the hospital administration and those of us who require their intensive collaboration for our programs on campus.

During this process we all, but especially Mr. Seaver, have only politely been able to catch spears but not throw them back. I personally am fed up with being nice about this and want the community to understand who the quacks are. I sense that our City Council members know the real story, too, and are about to do the right thing.

They will have a legacy of making Santa Clarita healthier and more respected for the decades to come.

Dr. John Barstis
medical director,
UCLA Santa Clarita
Cancer Center


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