Yesterday, a Mercury News story said some disparaging things about Valley Medical Center, and while I don’t often get into these kinds of things, I just can’t sit idly by and let it go. Not this time.
Because, you see, the story was based on a consultant’s report that wasn’t discussed or accepted by county officials until AFTER the story was published. The discussion yesterday at the Board of Supervisors’ meeting didn’t make the paper, but I was there.
Some of the findings were called into question, by the consultants themselves, and data sets backing up the claims haven’t been released yet. If you read the Mercury News’ story, you’ll remember they claimed that, based on the report:
- VMC is overstaffed
- VMC spends more on salaries as a % of overall expenses than other hospitals
- Births are declining at VMC
That last stat is true, and is true for the entire nation. Welcome to a recession, in the most expensive place in the nation to live! But, let’s step back and remember the two most basic facts I’ve been telling you for some time now:
- VMC’s budget: Reduced nine years in a row
- VMC’s patient population: Increased nine years in a row
VMC is overstaffed? By what metric? I wish I knew whether the hospitals VMC was being compared to had award-winning spinal cord and brain injury programs, or top-level NICU’s. VMC spends more on salaries than other things? Proudly, the VMC Foundation’s generous donors see that expensive devices like Giraffe Beds for infants and linear accelerators for cancer patients are provided, so the county spends less on equipment when times are tough…and it seems they always are.
County Executive Dr. Jeff Smith pointed out yesterday that the report wasn’t meant to imply that VMC was anything less than fantastic. “VMC’s staff work their butts off every day,” he said, “We’re just trying to find ways to be even better, and even more efficient.”
Again, that part didn’t make the paper. And I hope that more efficiency doesn’t mean doctors spending seven minutes on a patient visit. That’s how it was for me before I got here…when my doctor worked for a for-profit system. I’m proud that my VMC doctor takes time with me, and I know the opposite is one of the major frustrations people site when discussing health care. I’m also proud that the care I get is excellent, and that someone with no job and no coverage can get the exact same quality care.
And I know I’m not alone. Our community is justifiably proud of VMC, and amid efforts to make it even better, I will never forget that.