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Saturday, May 28, 2022

Ex-College Hospital Chief Seeks Health Board Seat

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A former chief executive of College Hospital in Costa Mesa is vying for a seat on a healthcare district board in north San Diego County.

Wayne Lingenfelter ran College—which offers psychiatric and general acute-care services—for 10 years.

The Oceanside resident and seven others are competing for four vacant seats on the Tri-City Healthcare District’s board of directors.

Tri-City Healthcare District operates the Tri-City Hospital and offers healthcare for 500,000 people in Vista, Carlsbad and Oceanside.

The North County Times ran a story last week about Lingenfelter’s tenure at College, which included both a turnaround and a settlement with the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office in a “patient-dumping” case on Los Angeles’ Skid Row.

College Hospital agreed to pay $1.6 million to settle that case, including $1.2 million to various charities serving homeless people. The remainder was civil penalties to the city and county of Los Angeles.

“I can’t tell you adamantly and clearly enough, we never dumped a patient,” Lingenfelter told the newspaper. “We made sure they had a place to go.”

Reform Prospects

The chief executive of Minneapolis-based UnitedHealth Group Inc., which has 3,800 workers in Orange County, said his company will “respond to the market” on healthcare reform regardless of the Nov. 6 election results.

“So regardless of what comes forward in terms of policy and what generations follow it, we will respond and operate and work within the system to maximize the potential of this enterprise as a commercial enterprise and to maximize our impact on the healthcare system in total,” Stephen Hemsley said on UnitedHealth’s recent third-quarter earnings call.

Hemsley fielded a question about the prospect of shifts in reform policy from analyst Sheryl Skolnick of Stamford, Conn.-based CRT Capital Group LLC.

Skolnick said there was a “nontrivial risk” that the presidency, Senate and House could all end up in the Republican Party’s hands.

“What happens to United in the event that reform doesn’t happen?” Skolnick asked. “How are you positioned to succeed?”

If there is a change in the direction of reform, “we will maneuver and evolve and adapt to that change,” the UnitedHealth chief responded.

UnitedHealth officials “don’t think the underlying issue has changed,” he added.

Coverage needs to be better considered, costs need to be addressed more efficiently, and “the system needs to operate more efficiently,” among other things, according to Hemsley.

Hemsley emphasized that UnitedHealth is not taking a position in the race between President Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney.

UnitedHealth will “never comment in terms of the political persuasion one way or another. We will respond with what the market … how the market begins to evolve, and we’ll adapt to serve it,” he said.

Bits and Pieces

Irvine-based patient monitor maker Masimo Corp. said that eight new clinical studies evaluating its devices were presented at the American Society of Anesthesiologists’ annual meeting in Washington, D.C. … Jim Agnello, a former chief financial officer with Aliso Viejo-based Clarient Inc., now holds the same position for Lexington, Mass.-based StrataDX. Clarient is now a unit of GE Healthcare. … Quality Systems Inc., an Irvine-based medical software maker, won a total of 26 awards, four of which are gold, in the ninth annual International Business Awards competition.

Quality’s gold awards included Chief Executive Steven Plochocki as IT executive of the year. … Orange-based CalOptima named Tricia Nguyen and Peter Agarwal to its board. Nguyen is chief executive of Vietnamese Community of Orange County Inc., and Agarwal is a vice president with Citizens Business Bank.

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