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GUEST OPINION

Dignity Health offers a hand up to ACH

 Posted: 2:00 AM September 26, 2012

This letter is in response to the negative feedback regarding Dignity Health's partnership with Ashland Community Hospital.

If ever there was a case for "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water," this is it. Dignity Health has evaluated our community, our hospital, our potential, and has decided to give us the chance to have a sustainable future. They are willing to absorb our debt, maintain our employees, improve the physical plant, create new services and embrace new and exciting technologies to improve the health of our community — the entire community.

This is monumental. This hospital is not a mom-and-pop shop, as much as we would like to think it is. It is, though, a literal lifeline for many people, a place of great joy and great sorrow, birth and death, injury and recovery. It is also a multimillion dollar enterprise and an absolutely vital employer in this town and this valley.

We provide services for tens of thousands of people, from Shasta City all the way up to Roseburg and to cities to the east and west of Ashland. Each one of those people has a story, a story as important as anyone else's story. This hospital is an Ashland institution with a grand history, very generous patrons and extremely loyal friends.

As a registered nurse who has worked at this hospital for 12 years, I can honestly say I love coming to work every single day. This is a fabulous place to work. Much of that has to do with the culture of the hospital, which mirrors the culture of the Ashland community: tolerant, flexible, progressive and fun. Now the Grand ole' Dame is in hot water, even after years of trimming costs and getting as efficient as humanly possible — all the while increasing the humanity of what can sometimes be a tepid environment.

We have now been offered a helping hand, a leg up, a chance to shine more brightly than ever. What an opportunity! If this tremendous offer of help requires a bit of compromise, then so be it. If what is going to stop this entire process from going forward boils down to getting a prescription to end your life then let's take the emotion out of the equation and look at the facts.

Last year 71 people in the state of Oregon received the extremely regulated prescription to end their life. Mind you, that's the whole state, not Ashland or Jackson County or Southern Oregon, the entire state.

It would be unconscionable to let this hospital stop existing for the thousands of people who benefit from its services 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, due to this or any single issue.

Tracey Caldwell is a registered nurse who works at Ashland Community Hospital.


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