Pubdate: Thu, 22 Sep 2011
Source: Record, The (Stockton, CA)
Copyright: 2011 The Record
Author: Dana M. Nichols
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


Medical Marijuana Advocates Claim Victory; Hospital Denies Connection

SAN ANDREAS - Feliciano Jiron, the president and chief executive 
officer of Mark Twain St. Joseph Hospital in San Andreas for more 
than four years, has resigned and moved out of state to accept 
another job, the hospital announced Wednesday.

Jiron came to the hospital in May 2007 and immediately began work to 
improve the hospital's image with young families. The relationship 
with families had been strained in 2006 when Mark Twain officials 
stopped offering maternity services, something that's often a 
money-loser for hospitals in impoverished rural counties.

Calaveras County also has one of the lowest birth rates in the state, 
which meant not enough babies were born to sustain necessary 
staffing, hospital officials said.

Since then, women have had to go to hospitals outside Calaveras 
County to give birth.

Jiron and his wife, Johanna, developed an annual Teddy Bear Clinic to 
introduce the county's kindergartners to the hospital. Other 
initiatives by Jiron included a Summer Health Career camp for high 
school students and a Polar Express event for families.

Jiron also presided over planning for a new 9,000-square-foot family 
medical center in Angels Camp and hired a number of new physicians to 
work at the hospital and in its community clinics.

Among Jiron's hires was Dr. Rafael Rosado, who now oversees the 
hospital's network of community clinics. Rosado in recent months 
angered a number of veterans, elderly and disabled patients dealing 
with pain issues by forcing them to sign a form promising not to use 
medical marijuana.

The hospital recently said it was backing off from that policy by 
redesigning the form.

Thomas Liberty of Collective Patient Resources advocates on behalf of 
medical marijuana patients in the Mother Lode. Liberty said that he 
sees Jiron's departure as a "victory."

"During this entire ordeal, we have never seen a single sign from 
Jiron that he was either willing or able to deal with these issues," 
Liberty said in an emailed press release. "This is a great first step."

Mark Twain St. Joseph Hospital Vice President Larry Cornish said that 
Jiron already had left California on Wednesday and was not available 
for comment.

Cornish also said he "was not at liberty" to name Jiron's new 
employer. He said that until a national search finds a new hospital 
president, the facility will be led by Catholic Healthcare West 
Senior Vice President Sister Bridgette McCarthy, who oversees 11 CHW 
hospitals in the region.

And Cornish rejected Liberty's claim that Jiron's departure signaled 
some change in the hospital's policies toward medical marijuana patients.

"I don't see any connection," Cornish said.

Instead, Cornish said he believes Jiron and his wife will be 
remembered for what they did for children.

"I think what we are going to miss most is his contributions to our community."
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