Young and Folkers were in top
positions in cardiology
Folkers wanted to replace Dr.
Young. Folkers told new guy
DiAmato that Dr. Young was
leaving. DiAmato learned the
truth, that he was hired to take
Dr. Young's business away. He
left without repaying his moving
expenses. He went back east
and became head of cardiac
Art Gonzalez flew back east and
got him fired and blackballed.
Education Reform Report
Shinoff & Holtz
Tri-City's troubles worsened by leaders
By Logan Jenkins
San Diego Union Tribune
January 8, 2009
I've attended cockfights in Mexico that displayed more statesmanship than Monday
night's meeting of the Tri-City Healthcare District's board.
How have things spun so far out of control on a board already infamous for wacky
Let's return for a moment to the November election.
The initial results had incumbent Darlene Garrahy – a Tri-City “loyalist,” if you will –
nosing out George Coulter for the fourth and final seat. When all the votes were
counted, however, Coulter edged Garrahy by an eyelash, creating a new anti-
Returning directors RoseMarie Reno and Kathleen Sterling welcomed Charlene
Anderson and Coulter – all together, they formed a four-candidate slate backed by
the nurses union – to the latest episode of “As Tri-City Turns.”
During a hastily called Dec. 18 meeting, the new majority fired the district's attorney
and placed eight top administrators, including CEO Arthur Gonzalez, on leave. A pre-
planned “forensic” investigation was ordered.
None of the Exiled Eight was given an opportunity to answer charges. Interim
administrators were summarily appointed, throwing the hospital into polarized turmoil.
How the bitter worm had turned.
From 1998 to 2002 – and then from 2004, when she won re-election after being
defeated in 2002, through most of last year – Sterling was typecast, fairly or not, as
an obsessive gadfly who invited contempt from fellow directors who didn't share her
dark suspicions about Gonzalez's leadership.
As the odd maverick out, Sterling was censured twice for aggressive behavior toward
hospital employees. A threatening encounter with Garrahy made news. Sterling
forced a change of board travel policy after racking up $11,000 in travel expenses in
her first five months. Security guards were stationed at meetings as a result of
disruptions. Sterling was ordered to obtain the CEO's permission to visit the hospital.
In a headline above a 2001 editorial in this newspaper, Sterling was branded a
Considering her history as an outsider, one can only imagine what it means for
Sterling to turn the table on her tormenters. Finally, the bullies are out – and she is
As for Reno, an upbeat retired nurse, she unfortunately seems out of her depth as
the board's chairwoman, vacillating between conciliation and defiance toward critics
of the board's actions.
Nevertheless, Reno is evidently in full agreement with Sterling that Tri-City Medical
Center requires radical – but unspecified – surgery. As for Anderson and Coulter,
they appear to be along for the rocky ride.
* * *
As with most soap operas, there are a number of plot lines to follow, but one strikes
me as compelling.
At Monday night's meeting, Garrahy charged that Carlsbad attorney Ron Cozad
wrote a letter to the board recommending a clean sweep of the administrators.
Garrahy's remark sparked a sharp rebuke from Cozad's client, Dr. John Young, who
is embroiled in a complex dispute with Tri-City as well as the hospital's physician
Young, a cardiothoracic surgeon, believes that an improper hospital recruitment
contract with an East Coast cardiothoracic surgeon deprived Young of business
while enriching a former partner of Young's. (The out-of-town surgeon ultimately left
Tri-City in debt to the hospital, which sued. The lawsuit is playing out in the courts.)
Subsequently, Young was disciplined for unrelated professional issues, leading to a
To say that Young is an angry doctor understates the case. He is on a mission to
expose wrongdoing and prove that what has happened to him at the hands of his
colleagues is retaliation for his loud whistle.
Not coincidentally, the board majority ordered Michael Williams, the acting CEO and
forensic auditor, to investigate not only financial decisions and bonuses but “alleged
retaliatory actions by hospital management against various employees.”
* * *
As you would expect, the Exiled Eight got lawyered up, retaining heavyweight Leslie
Devaney, a 2004 candidate for San Diego city attorney (she barely lost to Michael
Aguirre) who is a partner in the same firm that represented MiraCosta College during
the Palmgate debacle.
(Ironically, Cozad represented Leon Page in his lawsuit opposing a lavish severance
given to MiraCosta's former president.)
Monday night, Devaney tongue-lashed the board for violating California's open-
meeting law while planning and executing a coup in secret.
“You should be ashamed of yourselves!” she thundered.
Driving home, the jeering still ringing in my ears, I concluded that Sterling probably
doesn't care. She's used to the abuse. She's endured worse.
Once called a cancer, she's calling the shots, at least for today's episode of “As Tri-
As the credits roll, the camera closes in on Sterling's serene face. She's at peace as
chaos rages around her.