my take away is that we need more hospitals here not fewer

In Uncategorized on December 15, 2008 at 1:55 pm

I’d like to talk about my daughter’s experiences last week in the ER at Valley. First as I called to schedule her home nurse care, I had to wait on hold. And while I was on hold, instead of hearing that light non-offensive Muzak that no one actually likes , there was a message asking people to sign a petition against another hospital. This other hospital is planning to open a “for-profit” emergency room in a now-closed hospital here in the county.

And I say. . . I hope they open it soon. There are not a lot of ERs around here for a county with this kind of population. (I can say this with authority because of visiting my daughter in Kansas City where there are a lot fewer people and a lot more ERs.)

And while I applaud Valley for their excellent nursing staff and their open mindedness (for example, there’s a pre-op transsexual nurse in the ER) and the fact that my daughter is OK, I have yet to see the Valley ER when it is not completely backed up. The night we went, there were people on stretchers in the hallway, five hour waits (and my daughter was a “high priority” person since she had a doctor who called ahead and had already signed off on admitting her) and a waiting room so crowded that there were no chairs left. From what I have been told, it doesn’t matter what time or day of week you go.

And let’s be honest – this is a place where the vast majority of people are still not hurting for money. Where cutting back means letting go of the cleaning lady. Is a “for profit” place going to stop them from getting health care? No. With any luck, the for profit place will be where the people with the stomach viruses and the tooth falling out will choose to go. Yes, those were some of the complaints of her fellow ER patients. Of course, if you don’t have health insurance, you have to go to the ER for everything. But a stomach virus? A tooth falling out? Are these emergencies? If you’ve got insurance, go to your doctor or dentist already.

I think there should be a checklist outside of the ER that describes what an emergency is. A gaping wound. A potentially broken bone. An inability to breathe. A fever that doesn’t respond to Tylenol. Not, “I threw up twice yesterday and once today.” Not, “I’m 85 and my tooth fell out while I was eating an apple.” (Yes, those are real quotes.)

But in any case, my take away is that we need more hospitals here not fewer. (And just maybe ER ‘hold’ is not the place for propaganda.)


  1. Does Ebenezer Meyers read this blog..??

  2. Assuming VH were a true nonprofit dedicated to the public good (which of course is hardly the case), they would welcome convenient healthcare for all and not focus solely on the financial impact to VH’s stakeholders (who needless to say profit quite handsomely).

    It is hoped that this new source of competition, combined with current fiancial conditions, will derail the pie-in-the-sky $1billion capital project.

  3. Do not confuse the issue. VH is not opposing the reopening of the ER at the former Pascack Valley site, in fact, it is already open. They are citing the statistics of the NJ Department of Health’s study which concluded that opening another acute care hospital would seriously jeopardize health care for all in Northern New Jersey because it would financially destabilize all the existing hospitals.

    We do not have a for-profit hospital in our area. There are no “stakeholders” for any of our local hospitals. This will not be the case in the proposed hospital. It will be run for profit and will be responsible to shareholders. Like any corporation, it will look to cut corners and save money on the goods and services it provides. If you don’t have insurance or a way to pay for service, expect the new hospital to stabilize you and then send you off to any other hospital willing to take you as a charity case because you won’t be able to stay there….it’ll hurt their bottom line. Don’t expect any new surgical suites, MRIs, or any of the latest technology (all things which our current hospitals spend their surpluses on) unless the new for-profit hospital can show that it will increase their bottom line!

    If you think VH is greedy (which they aren’t), you ain’t seen nothing yet….just watch what healthcare for profit will do.

  4. They are not opposing the operation of the PV ER? Simply stating to the regulatory bodies that it is not a good idea? That sounds like opposition to me and VH’s stance certainly provoked an aggressive response from the PV group.

    As for VH not having stakeholders, this is likewise disingenuous. The private contractors who do business at VH absorb the substantial profits generated by VH. Is it less expensive to receive services at VH than PV?–I doubt it. The profit goes somewhere. That’s why VH is the biggest healthcare advertiser in the area–they are a business. Traditional non-profit orgnizations don’t ordinarily feel the need to market themselves so aggressively.

  5. I hate that Valley Hospital advertises SO much. Advertizing was invented to drum up business.

    I would hope that NO hospital wants more business. There should be more interest in PREVENTITIVE CARE so these enormous hospitals are not needed.

    I would hope that hospitals would become, as most technology has, more streamlined and taking up less space and not more.

  6. Again, check the website keepourhospitalshealthy.org and you will see that the opposition is not to the ER but to the extra beds.

    Hospitals are indeed a business and people have a choice in care, that is why they specialize, and that is why they advertise. They offer a product like any other business. They also pay employees and they pay vendors and even though they don’t pay property taxes, they certainly pay a lot of people who do! HMC and VH employ over 10,000 people directly. That’s a lot of people who can now afford to pay property taxes. That’s where a lot of their “profits” go, payroll.

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