Friday, September 2, 2016

Hospital Board: 6 Questions for Cheryl Brandi

Cheryl Brandi, DNSc, ARNP, NP-C

Hospital Board At Large, Seat 3

1. What are the major pros and cons of privatizing Sarasota Memorial Hospital and what is your position?
My position is to protect and maintain Sarasota Memorial Hospital as a community hospital and I will fight to keep it that way. It is fiscally sound—and profitable, it is the only community hospital for this entire region, it provides services such as obstetrics, behavioral health, neonatal ICU and services to the underinsured that no other local hospital can support, it is nationally recognized as a magnet hospital and has obtained the much desired CMS five star rating. People relocate here from other states because of the availability of the services this system offers. It is the also second largest employer in the county. Why would we want to sell off this jewel in our midst? I see no value in privatizing this hospital and would question any motives to do so as being simply for-profit motives at the expense of care and service to our local citizens.

2. Regarding the expansion of Sarasota Memorial Hospital: please expand upon why you agree or disagree with the current expansion? 
The current expansion has been very valuable to the community—better pediatric services in Northport, a clinic in Newtown, a new rehabilitation center, a medical residency program—(to name a few)--all very needed community services.

3. How would you like future expansion to proceed?

We need south county hospitals—would like to see one in Venice and Northport. Northport is one of our fastest growing community segments and merits a hospital. Better access to the quality care that the SMH system is capable of providing in these regions is a common theme expressed by south county groups I have encountered, and I hear it often in may own clinical practice from individual clients and families. Our south county constituents pay taxes for SMH, and deserve a better share of services. I also support a better push for more preventive services, as well as expanded behavioral health services and services to our aging populations and their caregivers. However, with rapid growth also comes an obligation to maintain careful checks and balances in matching vision with resources, as well as maintaining and improving quality and safety.

4. The failure of the State of Florida to expand Medicaid increases the hospital's uncompensated costs. What is your position on accepting the Federal Medicaid Funds?

I cannot understand why this state is lacking in accepting the Federal Medicaid Funding as it would provide for better access to care for hardworking underinsured people caught in the “gap.” It would enable better access to care for people with behavioral health and neurodegenerative disorders. It would provide easier access to care for preventive care to women and obstetric care, particularly important with the current threats that the Zika virus presents to women of reproductive ages in particular.

5. Moral and financial reasons for accepting Federal Medicaid Funds which were presented to the past Legislature did not work. How can the taxpayers encourage the Legislature to accept the federal Medicaid funds?

The taxpayers can vote intelligently for those individuals who support the expansion. Continued lobbying is also important. Contacting region legislators works well—letters, visits, supporting PACs that support the issue helps. Voting for the people who sincerely want to represent the voice of this community is particularly important in this election!

6. Mental health services are currently poorly funded; the low income working poor and some elders could benefit from the expansion of the federal Medicaid funds. How do you feel the hospital can be instrumental in providing the proposed expansion of mental health services that may be funded under the Affordable Care Act?
Persistence is the key to this issue. I believe Medicaid expansion is inevitable, but we need people who are willing to research and lobby and rewrite proposals and white papers and to continue to pursue this issue with our officials in Tallahassee. It took almost 20 years for nurse practitioners in this state to get recognition for their ability to provide better access to care by practicing to their full scope of practice, so we know that persistence and diligence work in resolving issues at higher governmental levels.

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