Beware of spurious hospital claims
There are a couple of spurious claims being touted in the letters to the editor and a flier making the rounds regarding the affiliation of Ashland Community Hospital with Dignity Health.
First of all, ACH does not have the power to take away a woman's reproductive rights — those are protected by federal and state laws. Within 15 miles of ACH there are two other hospitals, three Planned Parenthood branches and at least a dozen gynecologists who are not employed by ACH; women in the Rogue Valley have plenty of options.
Secondly, an ACH/Dignity affiliation is not a "direct violation of the First Amendment principle separating church and state" and will not "severely limit the personal freedom of choice for generations of Ashland citizens." Everyone has the same personal freedoms they have always had; the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee that you can have any service you want provided by every hospital in the country! ACH is a business that needs to make enough money to continue to provide the many services we all appreciate and take for granted.
ACH is a lovely little facility staffed by local people, our friends and family members; even if Dignity were to "bring some of their people in" they certainly would not replace all 400 employees. Nationwide, health care services and reimbursement are changing and many small hospitals that are unable to affiliate with a larger system will simply cease to exist. Think what that would mean for our town.
Please don't believe that a few very vocal people speak for all the people of Ashland. Many of us understand the need for compromise in these difficult times in order to keep the services we depend on here where we can easily access them.
Council should reject Dignity deal
Recent contributions by employees of Ashland Community Hospital in the Tidings suggest that a takeover by Dignity Health will retain ACH's "caring, compassionate environment" and will bring "significant financial resources." Fine. But what does Dignity get out of the deal?
Expansion of sectarian limitations on health services must be the primary driver for absorbing such a financially weak hospital. Previous letters to the Tidings from health care providers make clear how devastating such faith-based bans can be — particularly, but not exclusively, for women.
ACH's directors say the takeover would increase "competitiveness." But how would Dignity Health compete? It is under investigation in California for pressure tactics to increase reimbursements, not reduce costs. ACH should cooperate, not compete, with other health care providers in the valley.
Atul Gawande's recent New Yorker article ("Big Med", Aug. 17) paints a fascinating if somewhat disturbing picture of what he sees as inevitable growth of regional health care systems that provide integrated clinics, hospitals, and home care services. The results are lower costs and better patient outcomes.
Swallowing ACH would make Dignity Health a bit bigger, but this is not the kind of constructive, integrative, regional growth Gawande describes. The Ashland City Council should reject this proposal.
Hospital deal: Merge it or lose it
Ashland Community Hospital is in crisis. Either it merges with a larger hospital organization or it faces closing its doors.
The fact is that Medicare and Medicaid do not come close to covering the cost of services provided, and then there is the free care given to those with no means to pay.
Citizens of Ashland, there is a choice. Accept the merger with Dignity Health, which will provide the greatest benefit to the most people, or reject the merger because of two small restrictions that are unacceptable to a few people.
The final decision comes down to the City Council. What do you want? Keep ACH operating as a vibrant part of Ashland, or allow ACH to close with all the pain to so many that it would cause?
'Compromise' threatens women
On page four of your Sept. 26 edition, a letter by Tracey Caldwell passionately extols the glories of Ashland Community Hospital. It tells us how fortunate we are that Dignity Health offers to save us from extinction. Caldwell notes that "If this tremendous offer of help requires a bit of compromise, then so be it."
Will Caldwell please note that this "bit of compromise" just happens to include the rights of half the population of the world — women — to abortion. This is a matter of life and, sometimes, death.
To any alliance with Dignity, say no.
Thanks to festival for film screening
Thanks to the Ashland Independent Film Festival and Varsity Theatre for reshowing the movie "Five Broken Cameras." It tells the story of how Israel is stealing more Palestinian land, and when the Palestinians peacefully protest they get met with tear gas, nighttime arrests and live ammunition. The three billion dollars a year we give to Israel in military aid is directly supporting the injustice the film depicts a very sad use of our hard-earned American tax dollars.