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New face for health care district

By Aaron Kinney
Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007 at 8:13 pm in Uncategorized.

Cheryl FamaOn Monday, the Peninsula Health Care District appointed Cheryl Fama as its executive director. It is a newly created position for the district, which owns the land on which Burlingame’s Peninsula Medical Center is built.

Fama, who was president and chief executive officer of St. Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco since 2001, will help the district manage its assets and work on improving health care programs throughout the district, which includes Burlingame, Millbrae, San Mateo and surrounding areas.

The appointment comes after voters passed Measure V in August, which authorized hospital operator Mills-Peninsula Health Services to build a new $488 million facility up to seismic snuff. Now, said district spokesman Adam Alberti, the district has shifted its priorities, which partly explains the reason behind Fama’s hiring.

“During that time the district was very focused on its infrastructure needs,” Alberti said. “Post Measure V, having satisfied the foreseeable need to spend time concerned about infrastructure, the district took a strategic plan approach to look at the other part of its mission: the health care of its residents.”

The district has spent the last eight months examining community needs, hosting public forums and otherwise trying to figure out just what, exactly, it should to be doing with the taxpayers’ money that keeps it humming. Among the districts’ realizations, Alberti said, was a need for locally-based wellness programs, in cooperation with other non-profit and health agencies, that can tackle community health issues like obesity and mental illness.

Meanwhile, some elected officials in San Mateo County have questioned whether the districts are necessary at all. Supervisor Jerry Hill, who recently participated in the Local Agency Formation Commission’s state-mandated review of the county’s health care districts, opined that it may be necessary to re-examine “what the real function of the districts is” in light of changes to health-care delivery systems.

Alberti, however, says the districts have demonstrated that they provide real value, and hiring a executive director will help them deliver on that end. Previously, all the district had to care for its daily affairs was Maureen Mignacco-Dutil, a secretary who recently retired. The district’s board of directors meetings just once a month and is comprised of volunteers who otherwise have lives or day jobs.

“Really, they needed more of an executive director to help them with their infrastructure and their lease agreement and then focus attention to wellness programs,” Alberti said. “In order to be effective, you need someone to focus on the day-to-day.”

Fama holds a master’s degree in public administration and a B.S. in nursing, both from the University of San Francisco.

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