Guest Column: Our hospital cannot revert to the 1980s | SierraSun.com

Guest Column: Our hospital cannot revert to the 1980s

Paul Leyton

It’s too bad that a small, but vocal, minority wants to return our hospital to a small town hospital of the 1980s when it served a community of perhaps 10,000 people.

Today, it serves 39,000 people and 100,000 at peak periods. The population that will be served will continue to grow.

We know that everyone wants excellent medical care by a well-trained staff and highly competent doctors.

The community does not want a horse-and-buggy triage station with many more patients having to get treatment hours away from home.

Does a return to the 80s mean closing the Gene Upshaw Cancer Center that has treated thousands of patients here in Truckee, rather than requiring them to travel many hours to obtain treatment?

Additionally, the Cancer Center provides funds that significantly assist the Emergency Room and Maternity, specialty services that are not self-supporting. Would they also be closed?

Would the Neighborhood Wellness Program designed improve the health of the entire community and reduce illness be abandoned to save money?

Reducing the levels of service would seriously affect our business community.

Good medical care, just like education, is very important to businesses seeking and retaining highly qualified employees.

The resort industry, a cornerstone of our economy, is highly dependent on the immediate availability of high quality medical care.

Health care is continuing to change. The Affordable Care Act will require more changes. This requires leaders who understand the need to plan ahead.

Standing still or turning back won’t work in an industry that gets more and more complicated.

TFH has a partnership with the University of California-Davis Medical School and Hospital that provides us with “big city” quality care in many specialties reducing the need for patient travel.

That relationship would be in serious jeopardy if our hospital were to downgrade the extent of services.

If the small, but vocal, minority were to gain control of the district board and turn back the clock, rest assured that some of our outstanding physicians will move to areas where they can practice in first-rate hospital environments.

Let us be clear. There are certainly improvements to be made at Tahoe Forest Hospital, just as there are improvements to be made in any institution, business or individual’s life.

But to do that, we need to elect directors who understand the good things as well as what needs reform, who are knowledgeable, thoughtful, independent, and who are committed to providing the best medical care they can.

I urge all the voters in the Tahoe Forest Hospital District to look carefully at the candidates and vote for those who are without an agenda to turn back to the clock and not for those who would do that.

I believe Chuck Zipkin will be that kind of intelligent director.

I urge my fellow citizens to vote for him.

Remember, good health is the profit from a good hospital, and health care is like an automobile — the windshield is larger than the rearview mirror, as we must look ahead more than we look back.

Paul Leyton is a Truckee resident.