BY DALE BOHLING

Why does the story of Little Red Riding Hood come to my mind as I read Sutter Health executive Linda Horn’s latest attempt  to assuage community trepidations over Sutter Health Corporation’s dual decisions to convert Sutter Coast Hospital  to Critical Access and to move the governing board hundreds of miles away from the community? (“Same services offered under Critical Access”, published 4/4/14 in The Del Norte Triplicate).

Maybe  it was the wolf’s cloaking of his evil intentions as well as his ravenous appetite that sparked the comparison. It may also have been the vulnerability of Little Red Riding Hood as she began to realize that appearances can be deceiving which is seemingly what emerges within our community with  each sugar coated apologetic  presented to the community by Sutter Health.

While taking four whole paragraphs to set the stage for her intended splurge, Ms. Horn painted the canvas with images of hospital staff being awarded for their dedication to their patients and recognition of career tenure by their employer.  Along the way she sprinkled flowers of good will with her sharing of Sutter Health’s magnanimous philanthropy in the community.  An altogether rosy picture emerged of a community and the beneficent corporation that built and maintained the local full service hospital. That is, of course, an idealized picture of how things SHOULD be and seemingly HAVE been.  Enter the  cloaking:

“It is our commitment and desire to continue being a full service hospital and an active community partner”, Ms. Horn wrote. She avoids explaining  how to reconcile that statement with the fact of intent by Sutter Health  to reduce that hospital by half.  How does dividing something by half allow it to remain the same as before the division?

If the answer lies in the simple closing of doors, with beds that are “empty every day–and have been for years”, as Ms. Horn asserts, I see little cause for concern. But Ms. Horn’s assertion is simply NOT TRUE.  Here are the facts:

(1)  The beds have NOT been empty for years.  According to Sutter’s own website, there were 62 days in the period 1/1/12 to 6/30/13 when the hospital census exceeded 25, including multiple days within the last year.  (source:

Remember, Critical Access hospitals begin shipping adult, non-maternity patients when the census is just 22, so the impact is even worse than it at first seems.
How can Ms. Horn’s  statement be viewed as anything other than a deliberate deception or ignorance of Sutter Coast’s own data which was released to the Camden Group to be used in their study?
(2)  Closing doors is not what actually takes place.  The rooms are not just closed, they are locked.  Permission to remove the locks must be obtained from some unspecified government agency, in the event of a declared emergency or disaster, when time is of the essence.
(3)  The concomitant evisceration of the attendant staff whether highly skilled or ancillary, top to bottom, cannot be reversed by declaration of the state or anyone else.
People will lose their livelihood as their training and skills are stripped away from the full service setting owing to Critical Access designation.  Yet this loss of dedicated hospital staff is presented by Ms. Horn as being instantly replaceable at the time of an extraordinary event involving a mass influx of casualties, like merely opening doors and dusting off sheets.
Is Ms. Horn saying that a flood of volunteers will come to the fore to fill in the gaps? Volunteers will do what they are trained to do, but what of medical skills?
Does Sutter Health expect us to believe they can muster a fully trained staff with a snap of the fingers?
Equally inexplicable is the concept of being an active (caring?) community partner while simultaneously  removing any semblance of local governance 300+ miles distant where any meaningful input would be negligible. A good community partner does not cause members of that community additional grief by shipping them off to distant hospitals for care, leaving them devoid of the support of loved ones and the additional financial burden of getting a 2nd mortgage on their homes to finance transportation back home while in a recumbent state. Woe to he who falls ill under the shadow of Critical Access.

As a sedative to a concerned community, Linda Horn offers this choice parsing of words: “Remember that a  viable full service hospital will sustain real estate values, jobs and services in our community. We are offering the same services after our CAH designation as we offer today”. Yes, Ms. Horn, the same services, only HALVED.

 

THE FOLLOWING ARE COMMENTS ARE FROM DR. GREG DUNCAN

Today’s newsletter is a guest editorial by Dale Bohling, a former railroad employee of 37 years who served his local labor union as an in-shop representative, and a current resident of Crescent City, CA, where the Sutter Coast Hospital Board of Directors (at the recommendation of Sutter Health executives) has voted to take the following actions:

(1)  Dissolve themselves as the hospital’s governing body.

(2)  Transfer ownership of the region’s only hospital from within the community to a corporation in San Francisco which is controlled by Sutter Health.
(3)  Downsize the hospital by 50% in order to qualify for higher Medicare payments.

Steps (1) and (2) are on hold “for the time being” due to public outcry.

 Sutter Health executives state these moves are needed for financial reasons, claiming Sutter Coast Hospital (“SCH”) has not been profitable since 2008.  A quick fact check reveals otherwise.  SCH’s IRS Form 990 shows a net revenue of $6.5 million in 2010.  In 2009, profits were $759,000.  (source: Guidestar.com)
Sutter Health’s net profits in 2012 were $735 million. (source: http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/blog/2013/03/sutter-healths-net-income-soars-to.html)  Sutter Health executives doubled their own salaries between 2007 and 2012, including Sutter Health CEO Pat Fry, whose compensation increased from $2,287,163 in 2007 to $6,393,883 in 2012 (source: Sutter Health IRS Form 990).
SCH CEO Linda Horn claims the hospital is closing beds which “are empty every day–and have been for years.”  That statement is false.
Here’s how you can help:
 
If you wish to retain local ownership of a full service, non-Critical Access hospital in our region, please write to the Board of Supervisors, 981 H. St., Crescent City, CA 95531.  Our Supervisors have asked Sutter to reconsider their actions and release their data to the public.  Sutter refuses to comply. But our elected leaders have the authority to end this conflict with Sutter Health by exercising their right of eminent domain, to hold Sutter accountable to the promises they made to this community when they were invited here–to provide expanded services and improved quality of care.  GJD
 
Please forward this email to friends and post on social media.

 

 

 

One thought on “There’s No Sugar-coating In-patient Bed Reduction”
  1. Recently I had to choose between Sutter or Gold Beach hospitals for a treatment. I chose Gold Beach, a critical access hospital. I was 1 of 5 patients in the entire Hospital with a staff of 5 nursing staff. This included 2 nursing students. I asked if they had worked at a full service hospitals, and did they notice any difference between the two? Oh, yes. The main difference is the decrease in service due to the number of staff allocated for a low census,the night I was there, there were 5 patients. My Dr.lives in Hawaii and works part time in Gold Beach. I believe Gold Beach has a capacity of 24 beds. Even though 19 beds are available a pt.can come in that perhaps was in a car accident and requires surgery. This pt. would have to be transferred to a facility that had a surgical crew available. To sum it up, a decreased capacity can and does create ramifications that spreads through out the entire community and beyond. Remember when agribusiness was hell bent on shipping crops across the country that were grown in one huge area. The lack of diversity, cost of shipping,decreased shelf life and nutrition were ramifications that this cost effective style created to many negative,costly situations.
    Full service hospitals have staff for all services:
    Medicine,surgery,orthopedics,pediatrics,OB/GYN,,
    dietary.The ability to offer numerous services and combinations of services along with increased skills, increased census, increased profits, and the real winner is being able to increase the wages a facility can offer. When good wages are offered along with the freedom to practice medicine as a licensed professional, instead of a corporate flunky the applicants increase, which also increases the quality of staff that is very marketable, and a joy to work with. Magical results happen when doctors and nurses are allowed to practice “their” medicine without untrained managers dictating what treatments can be used and the order treatments are given, starting with the cheapest first, making the patient’s hospitalization as profitable as possible.
    Critical access with a minimal census can only offer the skills of their 5 staff. Due to the low census the budget can only afford a limited number of staff. The low census can not produce high revenues from health care. It seems like the profit only comes from increased medicare payments.
    The only medical care that can be given would be to specific condition that the current staff can handle. Other wise the facility becomes a holding station while transfer and transportation requirements are ordered.
    People with chronic health issues move closer to full service hospitals and there goes the neighborhood!
    Another related concern:
    With the increased concentrations of radioactive waters from Fukashima reaching and accumulating on the west coast,along with the self appointed AIRPORT AUTHORITY ignoring the USE LIMITATIONS meticulously listed in the covenant for the pesticide site at the airport. we will most likely need an increase in medical services. Please note if elected representatives and public health have not provided you with information on current radiation conditions, what to expect and any way to minimize the obvious exposure to your health, you may want to decide to not reelect these self serving opportunists.
    When did it become:
    OF THE PEOPLE BY THE PEOPLE FOR THE PEOPLE
    TO SCREW THE PEOPLE

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