Monty East: In a season of giving, Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital community commitment remains steadfast
’Tis the Season of Giving and the holidays often ignite the spirit of giving in all of us. This time of year reminds us of the importance of doing good in the world, and as 2019 comes to a close, it’s the perfect opportunity to reflect on how you’ve given back and to set goals for the New Year.
Many people think of giving in terms of financial donations, but donations of your time are equally important. As a Community Board member for Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, I am incredibly proud of the work we’ve done to provide care for Nevada County.
Access to high-quality health care, especially in a rural community like Nevada County, is essential. I know this because I have lived in Grass Valley for 34 years — as a real estate agent and actively involved volunteer. I can tell you unequivocally that the same holds true today as it did more than 60 years ago when Sierra Nevada first opened its doors — it’s a hospital that was founded by the community and is here for the community.
Sierra Nevada is a 104-bed, not-for-profit hospital offering 24-hour emergency care, advanced diagnostic imaging, comprehensive cancer care and treatment, inpatient and outpatient surgery, diagnostic and rehabilitative cardiovascular services, a family birth center where nearly 500 babies are born every year, and employs more than 800 people with over 100 physicians on medical staff.
But it’s far more than a hospital. We care immensely about the community and Nevada County and are deeply ingrained in its fabric. Sierra Nevada supports local events, employees serve on community boards and partner with local nonprofits and government agencies on the most pressing issues facing the county. We believe that health starts in the community, not in hospitals.
Unfortunately, despite these many contributions, there will still be times when hospitals — particularly rural hospitals — face challenges and are forced to make difficult decisions in order to ensure the hospital remains a part of the community for the next 60 years and beyond. In the coming days, you may hear concerns from the California Nurses Association and National Nurses United that Sierra Nevada has reduced nurses aide staff and hours, and as a result, that patient care, safety and quality has been compromised.
It is true we have made some reductions in hours for nurses aide positions. We also made reductions to the executive leadership team and in management positions. This was not a decision we made lightly. Community hospitals in rural areas are under significant pressure from increasing costs, reduced reimbursement, and regulatory requirements. Sierra Nevada is feeling these pressures and we are adjusting accordingly. It is critical that we safeguard our hospital’s health by managing our labor costs carefully and that requires exceptional stewardship. This will also help us invest in infrastructure projects and state-of-the-art equipment to continue to meet the growing demand for specialized medical services in our community.
Any assertion that Sierra Nevada would deliberately put patient care and safety even remotely in harm’s way is simply unfounded and reckless. There have been no layoffs of registered nurses or nurses aides at our hospital, and we have continued to recruit registered nurses to fill open positions. Sierra Nevada values our relationship with our employees and is committed to working with them in good faith through these concerns.
Rest assured, the care and safety of patients is our top priority and we hope you will continue to trust us with your health-care needs. Sierra Nevada is proud to provide access to world-class health care and it’s incumbent upon all of us to support and protect it.
We remain steadfast in our commitment to giving back to this great community now and for generations to come.
Monty East is a community board member for Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital.
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