County Commissioner Sue Gold said she was shocked at the personal attack on her by Dr. Reggie Williams at the commissioner’s last board meeting March 20, saying his comments about her proposal to build a satellite Critical Access Hospital in Brookings were “too inaccurate, purposefully uninformed and misinformed to enumerate.”
Last week, Williams told the county board he wasn’t pleased Gold had sent a letter to the governor on letterhead bearing the names of all the commissioners, encouraging a satellite hospital to be built in Brookings.
Curry Health Network is currently working with the Oregon Health Administration to get that open, and Williams said he fears her comments could throw those plans into disarray.
Williams told the county board the hospital district believes opening an emergency room at the Fifth Street Clinic is the best option to expand health care into South County.
“I am shocked at this personal attack,” Gold said. “The top of the letterhead says Curry County Commissioners, I am part of that board, neither of the others are mentioned and mine is the only name on that letter.”
Gold said all her statements can be documented for veracity, although Williams disputed that in his comments earlier this month. She questioned again why there was such a rush to get an ER in place.
“In 2015, the issue of a stand-alone ER was brought forward after tens of thousands of dollars were spent to change an administrative rule,” Gold said. “As South Coast was promised an ER without annexation to the (health) district — that was four years ago. There’s a hurry now? The answer is money. I have it on record with the chair of the (district) board saying, ‘we don’t want to serve them; we just want their money.’”
Gold also defended herself regarding William’s comment that her letter to the governor could end up delaying the ER for a year or two, a result he called “criminal.”
“The ER has been delayed four years — why is it now criminal to come up with a better option?” Gold said. “This ER would not even include observation beds. If you truly wanted the county to come together, you could’ve been working with all the citizens and not those who just have potential financial gain.”
Williams had also said Gold’s involvement with the South Coast Health Care Alliance in attempting to get a satellite hospital in Brookings was counterproductive to the health district’s goals.
“I’m proud to be part of a group of people to advocate for the best possible health care for South County,” Gold said. “(An ER) would have significant increases in cost and risk. Why should the people of South Curry County settle for less when they can have more?”
Gold also cited her work to end over-charging of Curry County patients at Sutter Coast Hospital’s ER, and stuck by her statement that during the Hooskanaden Slide in February, ambulances had no other choice but to take patients “straight to Sutter Coast.”
Gold also backed her rationale for a feasibility study.
“Why would CMS clearly indicate ERs are not preferred?” she said. “They’re not allowed in California and most of Oregon. If an exception is to be made, a feasibility study is needed to look at all the ramifications.”
Connie Hunter, a South Coast resident and veterans advocate, said she was a “bit shaken” by the letter, which she compared to a novice mistake.
“It gives the false impression that the board of commissioner’s left hand doesn’t know what its right hand is doing,” Hunter said. “It compromises the work of citizens who look to this board for sound decisions. It’s an illegitimate attempt to sway the opinion of the state. Individuals don’t have that power but the board has that authority.”
She also said she felt the proposal was “too tightly wound with right-wing government.”
“These are rogue actions,” Hunter said. “If you want to be a rogue cowgirl, become an advocate like me.”