The campaign for “reform”—however you define change in health care—grinds along in state and federal capitals. All the while, we here on the front lines do what we have always done: focus on our patients and the best possible care we can provide them.
Politicians and special interests this summer launched aggressive TV ads and traveling road shows to win public support for change or to block it. At times it got ugly. As one pundit observed, “What began as a high-minded Washington policy debate is now an elbows-out political battle played out on the national stage.”
We have tried to add an even-tempered, sensible voice by defining the impact that each new “reform” will have on those of us delivering patient care. Our goal has been to advise decision-makers of some key points:
- One size does not fit all when it comes to health care reform because community-based non-profit hospitals have a much broader role as the safety net for those who have nowhere else to turn.
- Continuing, or decreasing, the already painfully low payment to hospitals for Medicare patients will be disastrous. (NorthBay is paid 72 cents for every dollar of care for a government-covered patient.)
- Hospitals stand ready to work with President Obama and Congress to decrease costs in order to make care more efficient, but just as safe and effective.
Amid this tumult, NorthBay Healthcare moves onward and upward. A significant achievement came in August when our Fairfield hospital earned accreditation as a Chest Pain Center, one of only 17 in California and the only one in Solano County. The Chest Pain Center is an important part of our Heart & Vascular Center and further differentiates us from the other health systems in Solano County.
In this issue of Wellspring we showcase our cancer center, the first accredited oncology program to operate in Solano County, another example of NorthBay leading the way.
We continue to push the envelope in bringing advanced medicine to this community. We are building a strong community asset in the Centers for Primary Care, along with affiliated specialty practices, including a soon-to-be-announced Women’s Center.
Our inpatient hospitalist programs comprise a remarkable six specialties. Meanwhile, we build upon successful and innovative services, such as the Joint Replacement Program, an ambulatory surgery center, a comprehensive outpatient imaging center and a continued program of upgrading existing equipment and bringing new technology to the area. And we have only just begun.
We have a full plate of challenges for the next five years, health reform notwithstanding. This county ought to have better services for women, for trauma victims and for stroke patients. Vacaville’s hospital requires expansion and new services. And our technology must advance continuously. It is a bold agenda, but one our community needs fulfilled. And it is one we are committed to achieve.