The news is out. Ashland Hospital won't be affiliating with Dignity Health Care. The reasoning behind this, per Dignity's letter to the hospital, is the lack of community support.
I, like the majority of staff here at ACH, am very disappointed. We got the news last Monday. To say the least, it was a very difficult day. While I was lamenting the news to my husband, he made a comment that has stuck in my mind. Initially I was aghast. But the more I thought about it, the more it made me sad, but also made me ponder the reality of it. He stated, matter-of-factly, "Well, if Ashland doesn't need the hospital, then maybe it should close down" (as suggested by those folks who were vehemently opposed to our affiliation with Dignity).
I was born at ACH and have lived the majority of my life here in Ashland. My mother worked as a nurse here for 11 years and I have been here for almost 12. This hospital has been an integral part of my life and the thought of it "going away" devastates me. Yet, I understand the extreme cost of technology, the decreasing amount of reimbursement and the struggles of maintaining a viable business. I just wonder if our community really understands what a great service our little hospital provides and if they are truly willing to just let it go.
We have been providing health care for Ashland since 1907. And even though we are tiny compared with to the other facilities in our region, our smaller stature doesn't mean a decrease in quality. In fact, I'd like to think it's just the opposite.
We have been working towards our Planetree affiliation, which sets the standard for patient-centered care. We offer services to our patients above and beyond what is typically expected (such as massage therapy).
Our ER is staffed with emergency-trained physicians or ones that have spent the majority of their careers in emergency medicine. The nurses and clerks are professional, courteous and we pride ourselves in our (generally) short wait times.
Our hospitalists are a dedicated group of internists ready to meet all of your health care needs. So when you need to be admitted and your family physician is unable to follow your hospital stay (as the majority of them no longer are able to because of busy office schedules), you'll be in capable, caring hands.
Our Wound Center, with its hyperbaric chamber, has won multiple awards, including being named both for excellence and as a center for distinction. They provide prompt, skilled care with specially trained staff. And once you are referred, you are seen in a few days, as opposed to weeks at other facilities.
Our Birth Center has a wonderful, loving, "homey" feel and our moms come from all over to have the option of experiencing a water birth. Our surgical department offers a wide variety of options (orthopedics, general surgery, plastics and eye specialties, just to name a few).
We have a full-service lab that provides convenient outpatient daytime hours (plus availability after hours with registration through the ER). Our radiology department offers state-of-the-art CT, ultrasound and mammography services. The on-site MRI facility offers Monday-Friday hours and has easy scheduling opportunities.
Our respiratory therapy department, with its seven therapists having over 125 years of combined experience, will take care of all of your breathing needs. We have private rooms for all of our medical surgical and ICU patients, with a well-trained, knowledgeable staff to provide the best of care in our patient-centered atmosphere. Our ability to provide nurturing, compassionate, "you're not a number" kind of care makes us an enigma in this day and age of consolidations and the bottom line.
Now granted, I perhaps have a biased view. We all have our moments, and I'm sure there are times when we don't meet our goal of 100 percent satisfaction. But I can tell you this: We are diligent in making it happen. I believe we are closer to that goal than most, but it appears we may never have the opportunity to fulfill that desire.
Now we're back to the bottom line. Without our community's support, those adversarial voices opposed to our affiliation would ultimately be correct — our hospital won't survive without help.
Close the hospital? I can hardly say those words without closing my eyes in angst. It's so easy to be apathetic to another's plight when it feels like it's not directly affecting you. And maybe it's not right now, but what about tomorrow or the next day? Is our community truly willing to let our 105-year-old health care ally go by the wayside? I would hope not, but only time will tell.
Michele Brown is a registered nurse at Ashland Community Hospital.