Letters to the Editor March 1, 2014

By Del Norte Triplicate Readers March 03, 2014 06:48 pm

Sutter Health operating with selfish motives

Critical Access was funded in order to improve health-care access by subsidizing tiny hospitals. By cutting beds to qualify, Sutter Health is using the program to reduce access to care in order to increase its payments from Medicare.

Critical Access at Sutter Coast Hospital will result in more patients being airlifted to outside hospital — at the patients’ expense, separated from their family, friends, and local doctor, and responsible for their return trip home.

Every year from 1985, when Sutter took over the hospital, until 2010 the hospital was profitable. We believe Sutter Health is not operating as a true non-profit and does not consider the best interests of local residents in operation of Sutter Coast! It should not be allowed to move Sutter Coast into Critical Access designation.

James D. Gibler, Crescent City

Hospital downsizing to make bureaucrats rich

I’m one of the many people wanting to add my voice to the opposition of making our hospital a Critical Access facility. 

I have lived in the area for over 15 years and have availed myself of the services of the current hospital several times, as did my late husband. We were always happy to be close to our home, to have the support of our friends and family, and most importantly to have our own doctor during our hospital stays.

Now to have that all subject to change so that bureaucrats can make more money seems fundamentally wrong. Don’t the people of the community have any choice in this matter or is greed and money more important than the needs of the people? When meetings are held in secrecy and financial documents are held to be confidential, it makes you wonder what the real motives are.

Not a single one of my friends or acquaintances is in favor of downsizing. Thank heaven we have our very own Goliath (aka Dr. Greg Duncan) to fight for our rights.

Joy Johnson, Smith River

Negative consequences of shrinking hospital

I am writing on behalf of myself and my wife and I assume also for a number of senior/low income residents in Del Norte County. We believe that the purpose of critical access designation is to enable a rural area to retain or maintain a facility and medical capability in the face of possible reductions. We are well served by Sutter Coast Hospital and the contemplated changes would decrease our community’s health care access.

We moved to Crescent City in 2006 from Siskiyou County, just east of here. While we needed to relocate for a number of medical reasons, our absolute main concern was hospital access. In Siskiyou County, our nearest hospital was Klamath Falls, Ore., almost an hour’s drive. We have had numerous occasions to utilize our local Sutter Coast Hospital. My wife is a cancer patient now for nine years. Service has always been exceptional.

It is truly frightening to contemplate the bed reduction at Sutter Coast incident to designation of critical access. Our family and community will be affected negatively in a major way if this designation occurs.

This town and the county has a large component of senior citizens, as well as a generally low-income population. Of course Sutter’s prime duty is to assure proper treatment of patients which may in any case require transfer away. It is understandable if the medical condition cannot be dealt with locally, but it is inexcusable to force increased transfers simply because of downsizing available beds. These are some consequences to consider when patients are transferred:

• Patients lose contact with their established and trusted doctor

• Patients lose the ability to have family or other caregivers near, effectively losing their whole support system — spouse, relatives, pastor, friends, etc.

• Major additional medical transport costs are incurred by the patient or by taxpayers

• Major costs are incurred by family attempting to locate and visit such patient, sometimes unaffordable; friends’ visiting is practically shut off

• In winter months, transport through the mountains can be hazardous or impossible

• When patient are discharged, someone must go to them and assure transportation back to their home.

Non-profit hospitals should stand to serve the community, not senior management of a conglomerate which is using Critical Access designation solely for enabling a higher reimbursement level — primarily from tax dollars due to the nature of our county.

Alfred Lutz, Crescent City

Downsizing burdens us,  makes executives richer

As a long-time resident of Del Norte County, I object to the downsizing of Sutter Coast Hospital.

The plan by Sutter to have the hospital reclassified in order to receive higher reimbursement from Medicare should be stopped. The salary of their top executives is in the millions! Downsizing would be a financial and emotional burden to the people of this county. 

There would also be an increased cost to taxpayers due to the additional expense of transporting prisoners from Pelican Bay or the County Jail in need of hospital care, which would be 90 miles or more away.

The reclassification of Sutter Coast Hospital is a bad idea for the people of this isolated area in need of a full-care facility.

Deaun Reilly, Crescent City

Make Rikuzentakata a sister city of ours

After reading Adam Spencer’s Feb. 27 article, “DN’s ‘Boat Kids’ a big hit in Japan,” I would like to make this suggestion. I would like to see the city of Crescent City and the Crescent City-Del Norte County Chamber of Commerce develop a sister city relationship with Rikuzentakata, Japan.

It would be nice to see students from Takata High School come here in the fall, maybe around homecoming week. Yes, using a football game as a cultural exchange.

I would like to see the current president of the Chamber run with this idea. If anyone could make this happen, Linda Ging is that person.

Richard Miles, Crescent City

Expand float system for sea lions at harbor

Regarding  “Sea lions swarm the parking lot,” Feb. 25, Pier 39 in San Francisco had the exact same problem. California sea lions climbed onto, and obstructed, the piers located next to it. They needed to haul out and rest. They were climbing all over the boats that were docked and not letting their owners have access to their boats.

They solved this problem, and created a huge tourist attraction by putting out floats and a viewing area to safely observe and enjoy adult male full-bull California sea lions without danger.

I suggest that the Crescent City Harbor District copy what they did. With the excess money left over from the harbor redo, we could set out a series of nice-looking floats that would a) let tourists enjoy the natural fauna, and b) protect them from us and us from them.

By expanding the float system we would provide a great tourist attraction for our town and be in accord with the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Scott Johnson, Crescent City