A hard job gets harder
The good news for Enloe Medical Center is that newly hired CEO Deborah Yancer is already on the job—on a consulting basis, anyway, via e-mail and phone from the East Coast. And she will be in Chico on March 26, a week earlier than originally planned.

The bad news is that she’ll have a plateful of problems to face when she gets here. Troubles are mounting apace. First there was news two weeks ago that the county coroner was investigating the anesthesia-related death of a 44-year-old man during routine shoulder surgery. Then, a week ago, the coroner’s office revealed that it was also investigating the degree of connection between anesthesiology and two other, earlier deaths in the hospital’s operating rooms.

The quality of anesthesia care at the hospital has been an issue since last May, when the hospital’s trustees contracted with a new, smaller group of anesthesiologists. Critics say the group is understaffed and has to rely on temporary doctors, but the hospital has insisted quality of care has not suffered.

Adding insult to injury, Enloe this week received generally poor or average marks on a new Web site that grades California hospitals. Its overall patient-satisfaction rating was 71 percent, below the statewide average of 79 percent. In contrast, Feather River Hospital, in Paradise, received an overall satisfaction rating of 90 percent. The ratings can be viewed at

M&T mine appealed
As expected, opponents of a proposed open-pit gravel mine to be located off River Road and along Little Chico Creek about five miles west of Chico have appealed its approval by the county Planning Commission to the Board of Supervisors.

They argue that the project’s EIR was not certifiable and sloppy besides; that the project is incompatible with its surroundings (prime farm land), and the gravel it will produce is not needed, something its owner, Baldwin Contracting Co., has publicly acknowledged.

They’ve been joined in their appeal by the Parrott Investment Co., owners of the huge Llano Seco Ranch just south of the proposed site. Parrott cites similar objections but adds that the EIR fails to deal adequately with potential downstream threats to the ranch, among other things. If the supervisors approve the mine, project opponents hope the deep-pocketed ranch owners will finance a lawsuit.

Smoke this
More good news for medical-marijuana patients—those ID cards Butte County agreed to issue last week aren’t going to cost as much as expected.

The California Department of Health Services announced Feb. 28 that the portion of the cost that goes to the state—$142—will be reduced to $66, effective April 1, 2007. Therefore, the total cost of the card, with county fees included, will drop from $187.15 to $111.15.

“As county after county began to consider pulling out of the state medical-marijuana ID card program, it was clear to all involved that the fee increase at the $142 level would have ended the program,” said Assemblyman Mark Leno (pictured), D-San Francisco, in a press release. Leno authored SB 420 to establish the ID program.

The DHS has issued approximately 10,000 med-pot ID cards since August 2005 but has been hampered by the failure or refusal of some of the state’s most populous counties to implement the program. Without their participation, the program has been unable to recover its costs as required by state law.