Thursday, July 3, 2008

Silicon Valley losing another hospital?

A story appeared in the San Jose Mercury News this week that you may have missed...but to paraphrase Paul Harvey, it could be "the day's news of most lasting significance".

The story reports that Los Gatos Community Hospital's future is in doubt, as Tenet Healthcare Corporation - LGCH's operator - will not renew their lease next year. Scary, since we already have fewer hospital beds per capita in the South Bay than any other urban center in America.

True. I attended the National Association of Public Hospital's annual conference last week, and learned that the nation's average is 2.7 beds per 1,000 residents. In our community, it's about half that. If we lose Los Gatos Community Hospital next year--not three years after San Jose Medical Center closed--well, we'd have a problem.

But that problem will seem minor compared to what would happen if Santa Clara Valley Medical Center loses half its beds. That's what Santa Clara County is trying to avoid by placing Measure A on the November Ballot. If passed, the alert reader of this blog will recall, SCVMC would be able to meet state seismic safety law by rebuilding the oldest parts of our hospital.

If not, best estimates are that 11,000 people a year who need a hospital bed would be unable to find one available. Lives truly hang in the balance. Please watch this space as this story develops...and let me know what you think:

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