Thanks for clarity on ACH merger
Thanks to Karen Campbell (Guest Opinion, Sept. 28 — Karen has worked for 16 years at ACH and is a medical records coder there) for her letter of Sept. 28 educating us about ACH's decision to go with Dignity Health.
I was unaware that hospitals do not routinely deal with the issues of 1) contraceptives and abortion on demand, and 2) assistance with dying. As she says, we have other resources for these needs. I withdraw my letter of Sept. 26, and also a letter to our city councilors.
I wish ACH well with its negotiations with Dignity Health.
There could be a Plan B for ACH
There seems to be an assumption floating around that Ashland Community Hospital must either sell the dignity of its staff and patients to the highest bidder or collapse financially. I beg to differ because I believe that our community has enough good sense and creativity to develop a viable alternative.
Prior to moving here from the Seattle area in 2004, my wife, Marilyn, and I received effective and respectful health care as members of Group Health Cooperative (www.ghc.org), which began there in 1947 as a community coalition. Today that cooperative is one of the few health care organizations in the country governed by consumers. Its operations are overseen by an 11-member board of trustees elected by and accountable to co-op members. Even in the economic and health care climate that seems to be frightening some to cling to the assumption that ACH must sell out or die, Group Health recently opened a large, new hospital in Bellevue, Wash.
I suggest that coming together as a community to form a health care cooperative modeled after Group Health would be a more "Ashland kind of thing" (as Mar and I are fond of noting around here) than selling out to a California-based takeover chain.
ACH vote shouldn't be a rubber stamp
I have been disheartened by recent letters to the editor from some of my fellow Ashlanders. To my mind, the purchase of ACH by Dignity Health is not simply a matter of financial "compromise in these difficult times" to save our local hospital, or the acceptance of "a few small restrictions (related to abortion rights and Oregon's Death with Dignity Act) unacceptable to a few people."
Integrated, regional health care systems may be economically necessary and have many benefits, but I think I speak for many Ashlanders when I assert that our nation's health care, as well as ours, will be best served by removing to the extent possible the influence of both profit and religion from our medical system.
In accepting Dignity Health we are assisting that institution's explicit goal of expanding its religious influence over the nation's hospitals and care centers. Dignity owns 40 hospitals and 566 care centers — the vast majority are run as Catholic institutions. I cannot believe that our only choice is to assist Dignity's clearly Catholic agenda, but it appears that we will never know what our choices might have been. I have spoken to one City Council member who has told me that the council has no access to the records of the ACH board relating to this decision — the other proposals that were submitted or any feasibility studies the board may have commissioned.
And it appears our City Council will be making this important decision on the basis of presentations from only the interested parties. The council needs to slow down the process and consider the alternatives more fully. Despite ACH's difficult financial situation, there is still time to do so. To rubber-stamp the ACH board's decision would be a disservice to our community.
Thanks for getting your cars washed
On Saturday, Sept. 29, Ashland Kiwanis held a car wash to raise funds to help us support many of our children and community projects. We raised more than $700. Kiwanis sends a big thank-you to the general public for letting us wash your cars, trucks and vans, and helping to fund these projects.
We would also like to thank Ashland's Les Schwab for letting us use their parking areas for the car wash, and for providing the water. In addition, we would like to thank Pieter Smeenk, City of Ashland engineer, for providing a system to drain the soap suds away from the storm drain and Bear Creek. A "green solution" car wash soap was used.
Lastly, many thanks go to the TOP Soccer club and to the Lithia Springs Homes for Boys and Girls who each volunteered to help with the car wash. We couldn't have done it without you!
If you would like to learn more about Kiwanis, and get involved in its many programs for children and others in the community, please call 541-488-0532.
Ron Parker, president