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Coastal Voices: More reasons for hospital not to change

Here are excerpts from my presentation at Wednesday’s town hall about proposed hospital regionalization:

I would like to speak to you all from three perspectives.

First, as an attorney in the criminal justice system. We live and believe in a thing called due process, which basically means, you play fair and even and you don’t hide the ball. I’m offended because from what I’ve seen, Sutter Health has not played by those rules.

Our local Board of Directors voted to cede power to a board in San Francisco with no assurance of  a seat or any local input.

It violated Sutter Coast’s own bylaws by extending its board chairman’s term of office, a chairman friendly to the take-over. You can call it what you want, but it’s a take-over anyway you slice it ...

 My second perspective is as the elected district attorney of Del Norte County ...

Due to new laws, I can’t send as many felons to state prison any more and our county jail is full on a daily basis, increasing the need for more hospital care, not less.

 As reported, we have the highest rate of unwed teen mothers in the entire state — necessitating greater care, not less.

 As we all know, baby boomers, like everywhere else, are transitioning into senior citizenship and need more care, not less.

Then there’s Pelican Bay State Prison, a  Level 4 prison with one of only three SHU Units in the state. As national TV tells us, they house the worst of the worst.  I was in the ER last year when three of our CO’s had their faces and throats cut, hits called by the gang leaders in the SHU Unit.  Riots and assault on staff is a fact of life at Pelican Bay.

 Do we really expect the Mexican Mafia, the Aryan Brotherhood and MS 13 to declare a moratorium on violence because they support hospital down-sizing through regionalization?

For the protection of our kids, our county and state prison inmates, our correctional officers and jail staff and our seniors — regionalization is just wrong.

 Last, I speak as a citizen, a member of this community.  And you have to know when you see the members of the Tea Party, the Democrats, the GOP and independents all standing shoulder to shoulder, that there’s something precious and valuable to us all at stake.

Why do we live here? I can’t run out to Macy’s Or Sak’s and get a new suit. I can’t buy a big-screen at the discount store and get it hooked up by game time, at 35 percent off. I still have to drive 800 miles to see Bruce Springsteen when he’s on tour ...

We live here because we like being part of a thing called “community.” We like knowing our neighbors and who we trust and who we don’t. We like buying things from people we know —-and sometimes somebody who can use the money. We like being in a community that works together for a common good, rather than counting on a bunch of strangers to deliver it ...

But you better know this Sutter Health, Bill Stamps Sr. didn’t call this “Comeback Town, USA,” for no reason.  We can tread water longer than you can make it rain.  And we’ll be here tomorrow, so why don’t you just let us keep our own house?  It may cost you a few extra dollars, but you’ll still be in the black and there are some things in life worth a whole lot more.

Jon Alexander is district attorney of Del Norte County.

 

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