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Closing Obstetrics Not The Answer

POSTED March 27, 2013 1:26 p.m.

Dear Editor,

I read with interest that the Oak Valley Hospital (OVH) Board of Directors decided to close the Obstetrics Unit in the Hospital at the recommendation by its CEO. I’m interested in OVH though I live in Mammoth Lakes because I was born and raised in Oakdale, I own property near Knights Ferry, I pay District taxes to OVH and some of my relatives are raising young families in the OVH District.

I don’t agree with closing the Obstetrics Unit. A Board member said “we have no other choice but to close this department” but there are other choices. They can get the staff, doctors, and management to meet together to figure out cutting costs and growing volume. Or the group can focus on quality of care; I’ve never seen that mentioned in the articles in the paper. A sole hospital in a city of 20,000 people should figure a way to keep a full service hospital open and thriving.

I wonder how the CEOs at the hospitals having to absorb patients from OVH will think. Either they will be upset that they will be required to absorb OVH’s losses or they have figured out how their hospitals can support Obstetrics. And will OVH really save $750,000 per year by closing the department? After physicians paid to cover urgent deliveries in the Emergency Department, depreciation will have to be accounted in the vacated Obstetrics, severance payment for staff and other costs may eat the savings. Also often the mothers make the healthcare decisions in families. If mom has to leave Oakdale for healthcare the other family members will follow for care!

I believe this is the beginning of the OVH end. Hospitals don’t grow and thrive by shrinking the hospitals, especially decreasing basic care. In the end voters have the power to make changes at the District. If you are in favor of an Obstetrics Unit at OVH let the Board know your thoughts through your vote during the next election.

Gary Boyd,

Mammoth Lakes, CA

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