Something doesn't add up

Posted: Thursday, July 22, 2010

Something's not adding up here. On one hand we have Central Peninsula Hospital making money hand-over-fist -- paying down its debt, buying out physician practices, buying property, hiring physicians, giving away tens of thousands of dollars, buying TV and radio ads, and much more.

On the other hand and in spite of CPH's prosperity, the hospital's CEO Ryan Smith complains that the hospital is not "agile" enough, whatever that means, and that CPH operates in a "cumbersome" environment, apparently because the borough assembly wants 30 days to consider how to spend public money.

Then too, we're being told by Smith and CPGH Inc. that, while the hospital is in good shape now, dire days lie ahead for our hospital, and we must change its governance structure. However, even though CPH supposedly faces tough times in five years or so, we have at least four multinational, for-profit, corporate hospitals wanting to buy CPH. What do they know that we don't or aren't being told? Something's not adding up here.

All we hear from Smith and CPGH Inc. are vague, unsubstantiated warnings and worries about what might happen if we don't change how our hospital is governed with the only choice before us now seeming to be an outright sale of the hospital.

So while we are hearing what might happen if we don't, here's what might happen if we do sell our hospital:

"The growth of national hospital chains promises to withdraw control of a civic institution from local authorities. The chains, as Starkweather points out, 'transfer ownership out of the local community, increasing the difficulty of achieving ... reorganization of health care delivery.' Companies may shut down local services that do not yield enough revenue to the corporation, just as industrial conglomerates sometimes close plants ... Nor is it hard to imagine the concessions that multinational hospital corporations will be able to extract from local communities by threatening to close down their hospitals."

--The Social Transformation of American Medicine, p 435.

Much more could be said about the possible negative consequences of losing local control of our hospital. Does anyone recall what could have happened to Heritage Place when it became unprofitahle for its owners?

Area residents are being spoon-fed a one-sided story that just doesn't add up. No one knows the future, but area residents brought CPH into existence for the benefit of us all -- not for the benefit or some corporation's bottom line. Let your borough assembly members know that the sale of our hospital needs to be put to the owners of the hospital on a public ballot. What we're being told doesn't add up.

John Nelson


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