Cherry Simi: Dismantled health care system in Downieville affects western Sierra County
As an affected resident of WSMC’s abandonment of Downieville’s 24/7 medical care, I read the March 24 article in The Union by Ivan Natividad with great interest.
To be clear, the Downieville site serves ALL of western Sierra County, not just Downieville’s 300 residents.
An accurate figure would be approximately 1,000 residents as well as many of the 600,000 visitors annually.
These figures make Ms. Rubin’s statement that “the number of patients visits aren’t high enough to allow us to provide a higher level of care,” extremely questionable.
She also states that the Grass Valley facility does not offer 24 hour care and has similar hours of operation to the Downieville Clinic. One needs to be reminded that western Sierra County has ONLY the WSMC Downieville Clinic as a health care facility.
Residents of Grass Valley and the foothills area have many choices for medical services, as well as a hospital just minutes away, compared to Downieville’s patients traveling an hour to the same hospital.
In western Sierra County, calling 9-1-1 is not like Nevada County.
We have only volunteers and due to WSMC administration’s apparent lack of concern, we now have no Advanced Life Support (ALS) system.
The clinic was our ALS, our emergency care, our urgent care and our 9-1-1.
Mr. McFarland, CEO, as well as the misguided board of directors, have basically dismantled a health care delivery system that has worked successfully for over 40 years.
When the board made the decision to cut services in Downieville, there was little consideration to include the community in developing an alternative strategy.
McFarland also abandoned the interface WSMC had with Enloe Medical Center, in which the Downieville Clinic had a base hospital extension agreement to provide for emergency care.
Mr. McFarland speaks of the ambitious plans for expansion in Grass Valley while disregarding the promises made to western Sierra County in the merger agreement.
It appears that Mr. McFarland’s priorities need to be reevaluated.
Growth and expansion seem to outweigh the need for actual medical services.
Western Sierra County residents have taken the initiative to form Sierra Frontier Medical Resources, Inc., a nonprofit public benefit corporation.
This nonprofit is composed of several DC-PAC members and includes other community members, as well. Its sole purpose is to acquire and support the development of financial and other resources to assure the availability of medical and health services, including primary, urgent and emergency care to the residents and visitors of western Sierra County.
Cheryl Rubin, WSMC Planning and Development director, says that WSMC wants to collaborate on providing Downieville patients with paramedic services.
Mr. McFarland, through correspondence, has been quoted several times to offer financial funding for a paramedic program.
To date, however, there has been no further attempt to clarify or implement an EMS Paramedic interface.
Another broken promise?
Cherry Simi is a DC-PAC member and a Sierra Frontier Medical Resources, Inc. board member.
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