ALAMEDA COUNTY: Valley Community Health Center Falls On Hard Times
Staffers at Pleasanton's Valley Community Health Center are weathering a financial storm, as the board of directors last month cut $720,000 from the center's annual $5 million budget, leading to 10 layoffs, salary cuts and the subsequent resignations of two top officials, the Contra Costa Times reports. But Marybeth McCarthy, who assumed the role of interim director last week, said that though employees are "scared, angry and anxious," they hope to get through the rough spot without compromising patient care at the health center, which provides medical and mental health services to the poor. The budget cuts stem from a realization in December that bookkeepers had overestimated the number of clients that would use the center. With no reserves and a $60,000-a- month funding shortfall, the board had to take action. Board member Dale Tucker explained, "We had put together a budget, and it had looked good. [But the] economy is so good right now, we had fewer patients than we had planned on." He added, "It is a difficult time right now. All people are concerned. ... It hurt to even consider" the cuts. McCarthy said that despite the financial woes, employees are committed to providing quality care. "One of the things I feel is important is to keep the level of services we have now. We are contracted with the county and state and it is our job to provide services in spite of the crisis," she said. McCarthy plans to monitor closely the effects of the budget cuts on the center's programs, including the Valley AIDS Project, community services, family crisis, medical, psychological and volunteer programs. In addition, the board has solicited independent auditors to assess the facility's finances and content. "We want to reflect on where we are at and what happened, and we want to make sure we never find ourselves anywhere near this again," McCarthy said. For now, the center, which uses local, state and federal funding, will rely on supervised interns to help offset employee cuts (Mendoza, 1/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.