Beachcombing

By: 
Jay Beeler

Close Community Hospital and its emergency department? This proposal does not pass the common sense or smell tests. Here are some facts:

The California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD), which requires that hospitals meet earthquake standards by June 10, 2019, lists more than 6,200 requests on 385 pages for extensions for various hospital structures throughout the state on its website. There are multiple requests from the same hospitals for different facilities.

Memorial Medical Center and St. Mary Medical Center have already received extensions until January 1, 2030 and extensions for Community Hospital are pending.

Yet Memorial wants to shut down Community Hospital in April 2018, more than a year before the deadline without knowledge of the pending extension status.

MemorialCare’s income is $2.3 billion annually, yet cannot set aside less than one percent of that amount to retrofit Community Hospital for $20 million.

“Active fault lines” are those that have had an earthquake within the past 10,000 years, when local inhabitants were cavemen.

Community Hospital survived the only major earthquake that struck Long Beach in 1933; Long Beach has not been subjected to a major earthquake since that year.

Within the past four years there has been a 30 percent increase in paramedic calls, greatly increasing the need for an open hospital emergency department on the city’s east side.

Closing the Community Hospital Emergency Department will mean increasing the city’s paramedic fleet due to each unit being out of service for up to one hour while travelling to other area emergency departments.

Memorial’s justification for this closure is that the hospitals citywide have an average occupancy rate of 56 percent, meaning 800 available beds daily. This is understandable given the new insurance company objectives of quicker inpatient discharges to less costly alternatives of long-term care facilities or home care.

Memorial has already invested $22 million toward improvements at Community Hospital during the past seven years and has a vested interest in keeping the facility open while changing its role by (1) reducing the number of acute-care beds given less demand, (2) increasing the number of psychiatric beds due to increased demand and (3) converting some of its acute-care beds to long-term care and/or for rehabilitation purposes.

 

Community Hospital has had a bumpy road over the past 30 years with poor management under various administrations. When it closed in the fall of 2000, community leaders like Don Temple rallied a team to address the problems and re-open the hospital a year later. Some of those community leaders are active on the hospital’s board today, like Nancy Myers. Temple died in 2013.

What we really need at this point – according to an attorney whom I spoke with and is knowledgeable of the situation – is more community leaders to step forward (like Temple and Myers). There are alternatives to closing the hospital and all 200,000-plus residents on the city’s east side should be concerned about losing their lives because of the extended travel time to receiving acute care in a dire emergency, like major trauma, cardiac arrest and stroke.

Just to put things in perspective, the city is committing $179 million to build a new civic center because someone thinks the current city hall won’t fare well in an earthquake. What’s more important; a new city hall for $179 million or a retrofitted hospital at $20 million?

 

I became involved in hospital public relations in 1972 as vice president of a PR/advertising agency in Marina del Rey that serviced 20 Southern California hospitals owned by American Medicorp. From there I became communications director for Hyatt Medical (a division of Hyatt Hotels), which managed 30-plus hospitals worldwide. After opening my own agency in 1978 we became involved with hundreds of corporate-owned hospitals worldwide as well as a few local ones like Harbor-UCLA Medical Center – for more than 20 years.

So I know a thing or two about hospitals. Community Hospital needs to be re-invented to address current needs and stay open for emergency and urgent care services.

 

Humor Time: A balding, white haired “experienced” man walked into a jewelry store Friday evening with a beautiful much younger girl at his side. He told the jeweler he was looking for a special ring for his girlfriend. The jeweler looked through his stock and brought out a $15,000 ring.

The man said, “No, I’d like to see something more special. Price is immaterial.”

At that statement, the jeweler went to the back room and brought out another ring in a velvet case. “Here’s a stunning ring at only $140,000” the jeweler said. “It’s the famous Azure Blue which belonged to a Maharajah.

The lady’s eyes sparkled and her whole body trembled with excitement. Seeing this, the old man said, “We’ll take it.”

The jeweler asked how payment would be made and the man stated, “By check. I know you’ll need to verify my account with the bank, so I’ll write it now and you can call the bank Monday morning; I’ll pick the ring up Monday afternoon.”

On Monday morning, the jeweler angrily phoned the old man and said “Sir. There’s no money in that account!”

“I know,” he said.”But let me tell you about my weekend.”

 

publisher@beachcomber.news

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