I am writing in response to ACH and Dignity Health. I realize that the Death with Dignity Act and the ability to have access to abortions are issues that important to many of us, but these services are typically not provided in a hospital setting.
Those choosing to use their rights provided in the Death with Dignity Act are usually in the comfort of their own homes surrounded by the ones they love. If the patient is in the hospital, their wishes will be honored as per their advanced directive for health care. If the patient or family chooses to stop care and receive comfort care only, the physicians will acknowledge their wishes. Clinics outside of hospitals typically provide abortions. At ACH, the last abortion done was at least four to seven years ago.
Both of these services will continue to be available in the community. The majority of providers do not provide care under the Death with Dignity Act. That is their personal choice. There is a small percentage of providers statewide that do. There are currently about 10 physicians who will work as employees at Ashland Community and Dignity Health. During their working hours, they will be able to discuss end-of-life care, but not participate in prescribing medication to accomplish the wishes of their patients. What these physicians choose to do during their non-working hours is at their discretion.
ACH has been losing money due to various reasons. Medicare continues to cut reimbursement for services. We currently receive approximately one-third of the costs. For example: If the total cost of a medical patient stay is $10,000, the hospital typically receives about $3,000 to $4,000. This will not change with ObamaCare. There has also been less reimbursement for patients on OMAP (Medicaid/Oregon Health Plan), and there are also the patients who are unable to pay due to lack of insurance and jobs.
The era of stand-alone community hospitals is rapidly going away. To stay viable, it is now necessary to combine forces with another entity due the direction of health care services. After approaching 25 other large facilities, and with much thoughtful discussion with the board of directors and others in the community, Dignity Health was chosen. Dignity has the closest philosophy to ACH and the community, and can offer significant financial resources to our community and to ACH.
I have been working at ACH for 16 years and I am looking forward to working here for many more years. While any change can be uncomfortable, I view the agreement with Dignity as a positive move in order to retain the caring, compassionate environment that ACH currently has and Dignity also agrees with.
Karen Campbell works as a medical records coder for Ashland Community Hospital.