Not another task force

Posted: Friday, September 24, 2010

This week borough Mayor Dave Carey announced his intention to form a broad-based task force to mull over the future and governance of Central Peninsula Hospital.

So far he's talked to the hospital service area board and the borough assembly. Both groups have raised a skeptical eyebrow at the notion.

The borough assembly dealt with that issue earlier this month. At its Sept. 7 meeting the assembly basically declared dead on arrival a proposal from the hospital's governing board to sell a portion of the borough-owned health care facility. The assembly's 5-4 vote ended the matter before any real public debate could ensue. But it was clear that public opinion was steadfastly against the borough letting go of the publicly owned hospital.

Now, Carey says he wants to form a task force to look at the issue again.

The time for Carey's idea was a year ago -- long before the Central Peninsula Hospital Inc. spent upwards of $500,000 and months of time researching future options for the facility, which, by the way, is the board's job.

Carey envisions a new group made of members plucked from the assembly, the existing hospital board, the existing service area board, two appointees of his own and three members of the public, to be chosen by lottery. Carey says this new group will allow for greater public education on the issues at hand -- essentially, how to best grow the health care facility into the future.

But, haven't we already done this? Hasn't this issue already been studied, and by a group of people with vastly more knowledge? Wasn't it ready for a public debate when the assembly rejected the proposal, presumably mirroring the public's will?

Do we really need to form yet another group, members of which may have to educate themselves on health care delivery and management before getting anything else done? A group with no real power, no real fiduciary responsibility, no mandate other than to make yet more recommendations?

And -- if the mayor's timetable is correct -- we wait another year?

The work has already been done, and the authority with the final say in the matter -- the borough assembly -- has already decided. If the assembly wants to resurrect the issue, and allow a public debate to begin, it is certainly its prerogative. If the assembly wants to re-examine the governing structure or operating agreement with hospital management, have at it.

But we strongly question the common sense of forming yet another think-body to hash this over, all over again.

This is what you get, sometimes, when the government runs things.

In short: A task force on Central Peninsula Hospital is an unnecessary waste of time.

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