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12/08/2010

Leopold Graupera began chief of staff term in November

BY SEAN RONEY
December 8th, 2010, King City Rustler, Page 1

Mee Memorial Chief of Staff Leopold Graupera demonstrates an ultrasound procedure at the hospital's women's clinic.

New staff leaders have been elected at Mee Memorial Hospital, and with that change comes an increase in medical membership to the hospital board.

Leopold Graupera became the hospital's new chief of staff and began serving that role in November after Roy Schindelheim's term ended. Graupera said the change became official with last Tuesday's Medical Executive Committee meeting. Additionally, Christina Zaro has been named as the new chief of staff elect.

As the chief of staff is a member of the hospital's board of directors, Graupera replaces Schindelheim in that position. However, Schindelheim was announced as the newest nonstaff member of the board, making for two medical members on the board. This past Monday was the first meeting with the new board.

"In past years there were no physicians on the board," Graupera explained, noting how important having two physicians on the hospital board is. "That's a very positive change."

Having been elected out of multiple candidate by his medical peers, Graupera said he was honored. "It's more responsibility and more work, but it is an honor to be trusted enough to be trusted by my colleagues and the rest of the hospital to serve in this capacity."

Graupera went on to say, "My most important duty will be being a spokesperson for the medical staff. I speak for the rest of the doctors here in whatever issues they may have. When they speak as a united medical staff, I speak as their spokesperson and I take that to the board."

He said the likewise is also true. "I take whatever the board discusses that's relevant to the medical staff back to them in their monthly meeting." He said being an ambassador is a good description of his new duties, all on top of being a physician at the hospital's women's clinic.

When asked about physician concerns, Graupera said, "What relates directly the medical staff is we want to stabilize the staff so the excellent physicians we've recruited are retained. We don't want to lose them to other communities." He added, "Other direct concerns are the recruitment of new physicians including obstetrician gynecologists."

The duties for Graupera as a physician working at the women's clinic include obstetric services and gynecology. There, he said the physicians handle many specialties including cancer screenings, pelvic surgery and ultrasound scans. "We do almost any procedure done in San Luis Obispo or Salinas," he said. "If we can't do that here at the women's center we have the hospital right nearby. The rest of the diagnostic procedures can be done at the hospital without having to leave town." Graupera said the advantage to a local hospital is, "Patients don't have to travel an hour and see people they don't know."

Getting to know patients is something Graupera has had a chance to do at the community hospital, having worked with Mee Memorial for 15 years as a board certified obstetrician gynecologist.

Having moved to the area 15 years ago from the Philadelphia area, Graupera said, "Once you see the west coast and you fall in love with the culture and the weather." He said he currently lives near Laguna Seca.

The addition of Schindelheim to the board as a member means the board is now up to nine members Hospital CEO Lex Smith said the bylaws allow for the board to go up to 11 members. "Right now nine seems to be working well," Smith said.

Overall, Graupera said "We're very happy to have the present administrator, Lex Smith, and his team. They have brought stability to Mee Memorial. We're recruiting new doctors and expanding our hospital and services. It's a very pleasant change. We expect steady and controlled growth over the next few years."

While Graupera said he had not met with the board before Monday's first meeting, he said, "I know the dedication it takes to spend the time they spend. It takes away from their other business and private life. For that alone they need to receive a big thank you from the community."

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