Truckee’s great hospital
Thirteen years ago (well before grey hair and physical therapy) I was appointed to the Board of Directors at Tahoe Forest Hospital District, and subsequently our community has re-elected me three times. So it’s only appropriate to let our community know that I’m going to leave the hospital’s board in the middle of this term, and transition to the hospital’s foundation board, which is a volunteer position, not an elected one. The remaining hospital board members will appoint someone to serve the rest of my term.Frankly, it’s been interesting to serve in public office for a decade, in a role which allowed me to develop a deep appreciation for our hospital, at a level of detail I didn’t know was possible. I used to take our Hospital for granted – assuming that it would always be available. Now I know what a community effort it takes to keep our hospital viable with the crazy economics of health care and insurance, with a nursing shortage looming, and with changing demographics of our area and the changes in health needs that come along with it.We are so lucky for the hospital’s broad scope of services and the 64 great doctors who have chosen to live and practice here; for the nursing staff and employees who won distinction for our hospital with the best patient care in Northern California three years in a row; and for the modern new addition which will open next year, financed in part by generous contributions from many families and businesses in our community. Residents of most towns our size have to go to a big city nearby for many of the tests and procedures that we can get right here on the mountain.And I can tell you on good authority, we are also lucky to have a hospital governing board that’s doing its job of oversight and long range strategic planning, learning about the changing health care industry and pushing in these specific growth directions that our hospital must go. That includes:• Continuing to improve quality, for medical outcomes and patient care, at Tahoe Forest Hospital and at the Incline Village Community Hospital.• Developing a nationally recognized center for sports and recreation performance and rehabilitation, with an income stream to offset declining insurance reimbursements.• Recruiting general practice and specialty doctors to replace those who will be retiring; adding literally state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment and treatment services at both hospitals as market demand for them grows.• Understanding how to navigate the insurance maze which enables us to keep health care delivered locally.• Balancing funding for new equipment with fair wages for staff and a cautious attitude toward using public debt, without tax increases.Our Hospital is profitable, however like most hospitals today, we can’t earn enough cash to generate the capital needed to invest in new buildings, equipment and programs. So I have decided to transition my community service to the Tahoe Forest Hospital Foundation’s board to provide leadership for fund-raising, following in Bob Tilton’s able footsteps. It will include approaching many of you, again even, to consider including the hospital in your charitable giving each year, because every one of our families uses and needs this hospital – as my family has so many times.Thanks so much for your trust this past decade. When the hospital’s new Western Addition opens fully next spring, let’s gather as a community to celebrate just how lucky we are to have Tahoe Forest Hospital as one of our most important community assets. And let’s keep working together to keep our Hospital great.Rob Eskridge is a Truckee resident.
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