The Peninsula Health Care District is a landlord, real estate developer and community health resource but it does not seem to prioritize which one is most important, according to a report released by the San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury yesterday.
It is also sitting on nearly $61 million in reserves that the civil grand jury said could be spent on taking care of the immediate health care needs of the 230,000 residents it serves now in the north and central part of the county, according to the report.
The $61 million, however, is being stashed away for when its 50-year lease expires with Mills-Peninsula Health Services to operate the Mills-Peninsula Medical Center in Burlingame. Sutter Health built the state-of-the-art hospital for $620 million and, when the lease expires in 2057, the hospital will be transferred back to the district upon payment of its book value or the lease can be extended another 25 years. The district owned the old hospital until it was deemed seismically unsafe, which prompted the board to ink a deal with Sutter to build the new facility.
Board Chair Dr. Dan Ullyot agreed with the report’s findings mostly and said that perhaps the district’s most important role in the community will be as a real estate developer in the future when it builds a new health-focused campus adjacent to the new hospital.
The campus is planned to provide senior housing, a skilled-nursing facility, an assisted living/memory care facility and community center.
“In the long term, the health-focused facility will be big for the district and Burlingame,” Ullyot said.
The district’s top priority, however, is the hospital, he said.
“We have to make sure Sutter provides the core services for acute care that residents need,” he said.
Sutter rents the 21 acres of land from the district for about $1.5 million a year.
The district’s annual revenue is about $7.4 million, with $4.6 million of it coming directly from property taxes. Two years ago, the district put about $3.9 million of its revenue into reserve. This past fiscal year, the contribution to its reserve was down to about $1.8 million as the district spent about $2 million on special projects including the Healthy Schools Initiative and Lesley Affordable Assisted Living.
The civil grand jury recommends that the district, however, retain experts to determine the reasonable amount that it should allocate to reserves annually and adjust its allocation of revenue to “enhance support of current programs and grants,” according to the report.
The district annually spends more than $2 million in taxpayer money to support community health and currently partners with five school districts to help fund nurses, physical education instructors and a school-based health clinic.
The district also funds a full-time psychiatric resident physician in the county’s Behavioral Health Program for $500,000 a year. It spends another $125,000 a year providing dental services of frail seniors, adults with special needs and residents living on a low income, according to the report.
The district has been the subject of multiple civil grand jury reports over the years and once made a recommendation that it merge with the Sequoia Healthcare District, which also collects property taxes to provide similar services mostly in the southern part of the county.
To learn more about the district go to www.peninsulahealthcaredistrict.org.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 106