Mixed messages regarding OB’s future require Citizen Vigilance
Editorial by Marianne McGee MA/ABS
While the funding of Obstetrics (OB) for the upcoming fiscal year appears to be in the Mendocino Coast District Hospital (MCDH) budget at this point in time, a fragile one year commitment is not reliable and responsible enough to allow Mendocino Coast Clinics (MCC) to successfully pursue recruiting and hiring a second permanent physician. Additionally, MCDH has not yet responded to MCC’s generous offer to do so.
Having a second local OB provider is a vital key to making that service financially viable for MCDH, which will reduce the tremendous expense of having traveling providers perform on call service when MCC’s Dr. Brent Wright is not available. While providing OB care has never been a profit center for hospitals or clinics, minimizing loss is important. Having a regular local OB provider is also healthier for patients and staff. Local coverage was lost when the other local OB providers sold their practice to the Adventist chain, which also resulted in no surgical abortions being available in Mendocino County.
Unfortunately, last fall when Mendocino TV was conducting MCDH Board candidate interviews, we believed the rhetoric that “OB is off the table”, so we did not ask any of the candidates their views on that issue. If so, we might have had different recommendations because we believe so strongly that service is vital to this community. We were further convinced OB was “safe” by the 2016 MCDH Board approved telephone survey, which cited OB and Emergency care as the two MCDH vital services that appeared mandatory in order to request additional tax revenues.
Our community must continue to be vigilant and participate in MCDH committees, meetings and advocacy. Participation must be more than just showing up when we think OB is in trouble, which was the case with the corrupt Ad Hoc OB Committee structure and report. This was punctuated by Dr. Kevin Miller’s inappropriate proclamation that “OB should be closed” when he delivered the report and requested an up and down vote by the MCDH Board.
There are Board members, Committee members and management staff who are not well educated, empathetic and knowledgeable about the needs of this community. Many lack history, familiarity with the population and do not appear to have a long term commitment to our hospital or community. So, I think it is up to us, the citizens, to assure MCDH provides the care and services our community needs to be healthy and thrive.
You can watch all the Ad Hoc Ob Committee meetings and our reports under Building Healthy Communities on www.mendocinotv.com.