SAN FRANCISCO - The auction-rate market meltdown came at the worst possible moment for Cascade Community Healthcare of Bend, Ore.

The chief financial officer of the hospital system, the biggest in Central Oregon, had just left. Chief executive officer James Diegel was a little more than a year into the job as the top administrator. In his first full year, Cascade posted its worst financial results in two decades - a 90% drop in operating income in 2007. A computer virus breached a database with the personal information and credit card numbers of some donors.

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