Guest Column: Cancer center helps support hospital services |

Guest Column: Cancer center helps support hospital services

Veronica R. Kaufman

As a concerned citizen of Truckee and a Medical Sociologist, I have made it a point to follow what has been going on regarding our Tahoe Forest Hospital and Cancer Center as well as making it a point to attend Wednesday evening's candidate forum.

Prior to Wednesday, and serving as an impetus to attend the candidates forum, I had been hearing quite a bit of disinformation as well as misinformation. One of the most glaring pieces of misinformation is the concept that somehow the taxpayers have been paying for the "soft" services of the Cancer Center.

By this I mean everything from the physical embellishments such as the fireplace, coffee greeting room, art work to the wig and cosmetic services. These are all privately funded and have been privately donated! I have heard complaints that the full-time residents are having to foot the tax bill for the Cancer Center, yet one of the most significant contributions making our Cancer Center possible came from one of those part time residents: the Estate of Gene Upshaw through his widow, Terry. Furthermore, those part-time residents that have to make use of our hospital and Cancer Center are insured.

I have heard complaints about a second floor having been built that isn't being used. I believe that is called "planning." It is far more cost effective to provide extra potential space when building than to try to add it later.

I was surprised by Dr. Spohr's repeated statements about the need to increase patient visits and to keep patients from going elsewhere. As a Medical Sociologist working at the Rand Corporation with economists, I/ we were tasked to do a National Health Insurance Pilot Study.

One of the most dramatic results for predicting the use of health care services was: proximity of services. One of the most difficult predictors was for psycho-social services. And so, today, we find little or no insurance coverage for those services, but are lucky enough in this community to have people willing to step up and privately fund them.

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Certainly, there is consensus that greater transparency and accountability are not only desirable, but necessary going forward. This is being addressed. We seem to gloss over the fact that the Cancer Center is an income producer that helps support those services that are income losers.

How can this be ignored? It continues to astonish me that pride in excellence is being put aside? I, as a full-time resident of Truckee, am proud of the hospital, the Cancer Center, the caliber of physicians and specialties, the nursing care, and the attention to patient care.

Thank you Larry Heifetz and all your colleagues for having put in the tremendous time and effort that has contributed to making our community health system as outstanding as it is.

Veronica R. Kaufman is Truckee resident and a retired Medical Sociologist, holding a BA with honors from Pomona College and a graduate degree from Harvard University.