Health

Election 2020: San Benito County Health Care District, Zone 5

Three candidates seek seat that will be vacated by incumbent Angie De La Cruz.

Note: BenitoLink’s 2020 Election Forum was partially sponsored by Richard W. Shelton Insurance Marketing Inc., run by the son of candidate Rick Shelton, Andrew Shelton.

Three candidates are running to represent San Benito County Health Care District, Zone 5: Alberto Arevalo, Elizabeth Arrizon and Rick Shelton. Current incumbent Angie De La Cruz is not seeking reelection.

All candidates participated in the BenitoLink 2020 Election Forum video series. The San Benito County Health Care District Zone 5 video can be viewed on the BenitoLink YouTube Channel.

 

Alberto Arevalo has lived in the county for over 40 years, save for the brief time he was away at college. He has worked for Pride Conveyance Systems for over six years and said he enjoys working in the community. He also likes to compete in barbeque competitions.

Alberto Arevalo. Photo courtesy of Albert Arevalo.
Alberto Arevalo. Photo courtesy of Albert Arevalo.

 

BENITOLINK: Why are you running to represent Zone 5?

AREVALO: I am running to improve the healthcare in this community. I am constantly taking time off work to take my elderly mother out of town for medical care. I’m sure I’m not the only one doing this. We should be able to provide these services in town.

What issues are most important to the district and the hospital?

I have been in many conversations with families in my district over medical services. Some of the biggest concerns have to do with billing, cost of medical services and the fact that not all insurances are accepted.

With our community growing so fast we need to be prepared and be able to handle the influx of so many people in San Benito County. We need to make sure we have enough ICU beds when we need them.

Are there issues you feel are important to the hospital or your district that the public may not know about?

The hospital recently downsized its ICU bed capacity to four and its hospital beds down to 25 in order to be designated a Critical Access Hospital. This was done to make the hospital financially viable. As the COVID pandemic has demonstrated, we need to grow our hospital and its capacity.

What obstacles and challenges does the hospital face?

The biggest challenge is to improve the confidence and trust people have in Hazel Hawkins and the services it provides.

How do you plan to address those issues?

Using my experience in quality control to provide quality services. Increase the number of hospital beds to keep pace with the population. Supporting our doctors and nurses with the latest technology. 

How do you intend to communicate and stay in touch with the constituents?

I plan to be active on social media and represent Hazel Hawkins in community events.

What is the role of the hospital board?

The role of the board is to communicate the will of the people to the hospital administration so they can put it into action. A new CEO has just started, and I will meet with him on a regular basis. I will ensure the needs of District 5 are met.

 

Elizabeth Arrizon was born in Hollister and has lived here most of her life. She is married and has three children.

After graduating from CSU-Stanislaus in 2007 with a BA in criminal justice, she took over the taxi business her godfather owned for 25 years. She has run Hollister Taxi since 2009.

Arrizon said her introduction to politics came in 2001 when she became a member of the youth wing of League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), where she also served as president.

Elizabeth Arrizon. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Arrizon.
Elizabeth Arrizon. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Arrizon.

BENITOLINK: Why are you running to represent Zone 5?

ARRIZON: While conducting my business we deal a lot with hospital patients and I noticed that the hospital had a lot of room for improvement and the opportunity presented itself to run for office and I felt that this is my opportunity to make the difference that I believe the hospital needs to change.

What issues are most important to the district and the hospital?

There is a huge lack of help for a lot of people who have mental problems and drug abuse. These are individuals who really need help and they are not getting the proper treatment. Also, there’s a big language barrier in our hospital with the Hispanic community since I had to translate several times for my Hispanic customers.

Are there issues you feel are important to the hospital or your district that the public may not know about?

While speaking to some of the nurses at the hospital there is an agreement that the hospital is underfunded, therefore there’s a lack of proper training for the staff, which makes the hospital look bad.

What obstacles and challenges does the hospital face?

Just like any business the hospital needs to generate enough money to reinvest in better equipment and better training, however, we keep referring all the patient out-of-county facilities, which are generating the money that we need here in Hollister. So, we need to get money into our hospital so we can improve the services.

How do you plan to address those issues?

The first step that we need to do is get the trust of the Hollister community because most of the people have lost the faith in our hospital. We need to work with the hospital by communicating all the negative experiences customers have had and that I have seen in order to better train the staff and ensure the patients don’t go through those dramatic experiences.

How do you intend to communicate and stay in touch with the constituents?

I have a direct line to both the hospital and the patients, which I could serve as a mediator between them. I can now bring the concerns to the hospital and I can communicate to the patient the changes the hospital will be making to better suit their needs.

What is the role of the hospital board?

My role in the board will be to help improve the hospital and to be the voice of all these people that I have been hearing for the past 12 years. I think by all of us working together we can find a common goal to improve the hospital which will benefit the community of San Benito County.

 

Rick Shelton has lived in the county for 47 years. He has been married for 41 years, with three sons and four grandchildren raised in Hollister. He is the founder/CEO of Richard W. Shelton Insurance Marketing Inc.

Though he is new to politics, Shelton was an active member of the Hollister Exchange Club for 36 years and served as president twice. He has also served as president of the Hollister Kiwanis Club and spent 17 years as a scoutmaster for Boy Scouts of America, where he served on the Eagle Board of Review for over 20 years.

Rick Shelton. Photo courtesy of Rick Shelton.
Rick Shelton. Photo courtesy of Rick Shelton.

BENITOLINK: Why are you running to represent Zone 5?

SHELTON: I would like to make a difference for our community and my family. My past executive experience and insurance knowledge would offer a different perspective to help in the decision-making process for the hospital board. I look forward to seeing my grandchildren and their families grow up in San Benito County.

What issues are most important to the district and the hospital?

Primary Care Access: We have too many citizens in our community waiting too long before accessing medical attention. They show up at the emergency room with conditions that could have been prevented, avoided or minimized. An advanced medical condition that could have been able to be prevented has now progressed into a major complication. We need to address the homeless and underserved population. Today we have COVID-19 and poor air quality. People in San Benito County need to be able to receive proper, quality care in advance and on a regular convenient basis. It is my hope that a coordinated effort can occur to provide this access and care for that segment of our community, primary care providers and specialists.  

The recruitment needs of our community must be addressed as many of our local providers are approaching their golden years. The recruitment should focus on quality as well as the changing medical needs of our community.

Financial and Efficiencies: For Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital to remain a viable part of our community it must remain stable financially. The San Benito Health Care District recently has reviewed a few options for financial relief. I was asked to participate with a steering committee with 24 other members of our community about two years ago. Unfortunately, the options requested did not materialize. As a result of that process, the hospital opted for Plan B and was able to achieve the Critical Access designation, which provides additional reimbursements for Medicare patient services. The additional reimbursements were received this year, providing additional revenue to maintain the current hospital functions. We have a fantastic facility with the new ICU units, Women’s Center and recent constructions undertaken by this hospital. I would promote using the facilities efficiently by offering more primary care, specialty care and being a place where people want to go for high quality, convenient health care. This concept would require everyone in the San Benito Health Care District pulling together to achieve this goal.

Are there issues you feel are important to the hospital or your district that the public may not know about?

For a hospital to be around as long as Hazel Hawkins has, it had to adapt. The hospital and its facilities have transitioned into what it is today to meet the needs of our community. The public has to be made aware of these changes, benefits and its ongoing difficulties. It is always hard to meet the changing demands of a growing community. This is where transparency is important. I feel the hospital has been transparent, the organization has to continue to grow to meet these needs.

What obstacles and challenges does the hospital face?

There are many. The search for a new CEO, government regulations and industry standards. We are in a rural environment that has to keep up with a Silicon Valley and a Monterey County benchmark to provide specialized care. This is no small task in comparison to these locations and their funding. Not to mention the increase of home-based workforce trends hastened by the pandemic closures.

How do you plan to address those issues?

Working with other entities to provide specialized care and provider recruitment.

How do you intend to communicate and stay in touch with the constituents?

I have had an open-door policy for 40 years and counting. Not a social media buff, but I plan on opening those outlets in time. My email is rshelton700@gmail.com. Meeting attendance is expected, and meeting preparedness is a standard.

What is the role of the hospital board?

To guide, to plan for the future, and understand the demands of the community served. The board has a responsibility to act in the best interest of the constituents. The board understands that the CEO is the key to the process.

 

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John Chadwell

John Chadwell is a BenitoLink reporter and an author. He has many years experience as a freelance photojournalist, copywriter, ghostwriter, scriptwriter and novelist. He is a former U.S. Navy Combat Photojournalist and is an award-winning writer who has worked for magazine, newspapers, radio and television. He has a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Chapman University and underwent graduate studies at USC Cinema School. John has worked as a script doctor and his own script, God's Club, was released as a motion picture in 2016. He has also written eight novels, ranging from science fiction to true crime that are sold on Amazon. To contact John Chadwell, send an email to: johnchadwell@benitolink.com.