By Catherine Wiley
There is a renewed push by several public officials to financially subsidize the Curry Health Network (CHN) along with the years’ old “promise” of an emergency room (ER) in Brookings.
Is this really our only and best possible option?
Or, is this simply a push to increase CHN’s revenue, while potentially causing significant costs, disadvantages and/or harm to everyone in 97415?
The proposed annexation of South Curry County/97415 in 2015 was initiated and supported by Brookings City officials and the Curry Health District (CHD). After defeat of the annexation measure, a group of volunteer citizens in 97415 formed the South Curry Health Care Alliance (SCHCA) to explore potential, legal options for essential health care services: specifically, a hospital in 97415. While an ER might be better than nothing, it would eliminate our current option to go by ambulance to Sutter, would significantly increase costs (both personal and insurance), increase patient risks and decrease best outcomes. We have made significant efforts to work collaboratively with governmental entities to fulfill and implement the Oregon Health Authority’s (OHA) Mission Statement: “Helping people and communities achieve optimum physical, mental and social well being through partnerships, prevention and access to quality, affordable health care.”
Curry County is federally designated as both medically and provider underserved. South Curry County/97415 constitutes two-thirds of Curry County’s population. Despite these facts, and significant efforts, the governmental entities, with whom we have attempted to work, appear to have no sincere interest and/or investment in working toward equitable health care access for the citizen-taxpayers of our community.
Why should we settle for an emergency room before the option of a hospital with an ER is fully explored? Why are our public officials so anxious to financially subsidize the Curry Health Network and a stand-alone/free-standing ER in 97415 without acknowledging and fully exploring the mutual benefits/advantages of a satellite hospital?
Are we being sold out?
South Curry County has been seeking hospital services within 97415 for well over 15 years.
The only hospital in Curry County is approximately 27 miles north over a treacherous stretch of U.S. 101.
The trip to Gold Beach often takes twice as long as getting to Crescent City.
ODOT has documented that our geographic area will be isolated for 5-6 years when the Cascadia Subduction impact occurs.
Our demographics document that the majority of our population is dependent on Medicare and/or Medicaid (OHP) for health insurance.
Curry County is designated by the federal government as underserved by medical providers and medical services.
Curry County is ranked 29th in health care out of all 36 Oregon counties.
The city of Brookings is centered in 97415, and constitutes less than one-half of our 97415 population.
The city spent over $108,000, without public disclosure or approval, for attorney and lobbyist fees (Davis, Wright, Tremaine) to effect a new Oregon Administrative Rule (OAR) which was implemented in August 2015. This OAR allows licensing of an “off-campus/freestanding” Emergency Department (ED).
The city’s expenditure for legal services, as well as the undisclosed amounts for travel, meetings and staff time, did not include any public input or assessment of more equitable, accessible and/or affordable options.
The ballot measure to annex the City of Brookings and all of 97415 to the Curry Health District was proposed by Brookings and CHD public officials. It promised a “free-standing” E. in CHD’s 5th Street clinic.
It was staunchly supported by then-mayor Hedenskog.
Curry health district
We believe all citizens have the right to know the facts. These facts should include how, and how much public money is spent. Such information is essential, especially when our very lives are impacted.
We have developed a survey monkey in order to get your opinions on these issues.
We hope you will express your opinions, both in the survey and when you vote this November.
Catherine Wiley chairs the South Curry Health Care Alliance.