By a vote of six to one, the Oak Valley Hospital Board of Directors decided to close the obstetrics unit of the hospital that has delivered babies since the early 1970s.
Hospital CEO John McCormick made the recommendation back on Jan. 23 claiming the unit was losing $750,000 per year. The hospital held two public forums on the matter over the last two weeks to receive resident input.
“This is a loss we can no longer absorb,” McCormick wrote in his report for the board vote. “It pains me to make this statement, but I recommend the Board authorize the closing of the Obstetric Department in July 2013 or sooner if warranted.”
Board President Dan Cummins acknowledged to the audience that the vote was a very emotional topic.
“I can say with complete confidence that this board has been through a very difficult and emotional process in determining our vote on the subject,” Cummins said. “But, nobody on this board has the luxury of voting our emotions. We must take all the facts into consideration.”
Cummins said he had to take into account the well-being of the entire district and the future of the hospital in determining his vote.
Board member Dr. Edward Chock reminded the gathering that he had been practicing medicine in the area for a great while and listened to those that spoke at the forums but had to look at the district as a whole.
“We have no other choice but to close this department,” Chock said. “With a financial loss of this magnitude it’s just not sustainable without compromising our ability to provide services to the community.”
Chock motioned for the vote on the matter
Longtime board member Bob Wikoff seconded the motion, but wanted to make a statement prior to casting of the votes.
Wikoff questioned if the district had sufficiently marketed the hospital to significant Oakdale employers such as the school district, Oakdale Irrigation District or Sconza, whose health plans send insured patients to other area hospitals.
“What have we done to get them to use Oak Valley Hospital?” Wikoff asked. “We’ve dropped the ball on lots of areas that could have helped the hospital.”
By a vote of six to one, with Wikoff casting the dissenting vote, the board voted to close the department by July 2013.
For the entire story, read the March 6 Oakdale Leader.