By Court Boice

I believe Curry Health Network (CHN) should be viewed as an organization with great opportunities to help bring our communities together. Though we have an older population than the rest of the state demographically, we should still be looking to provide the best all-around health care for our people regardless of where they call home. Health care that is affordable, that makes sense, that working families can use, and that helps make our county a great place to live, work, and play.

Natural disasters notwithstanding, quality health care is the number one reason I decided to run for Curry Commissioner in late 2016. I believed then and am still convinced today in working hard towards unifying our communities for the good of all.

Our desired health care goals should be toward perfection, and as a public official I have no intentions of excusing any compromised quality of care. However, at the same time with an eye on reality, we need to manage our expectations from any hospital or health care provider anywhere.

I wish to offer some side notes, of sorts. The South County Health Advisory (SCHA) has been running a campaign that appears to discredit the intent and efforts of CHN. The management and staff voluntarily reduced pay with the sole purpose of helping CHN improve its cash on hand, one of the key indicators all health networks or hospitals monitor. At the same time, the staff and management have embarked on a patient experience initiative that will raise the level of care and the outcomes for everyone who ends up needing what CHN is chartered to provide.

Another example of the CHN leadership direction is a notable accomplishment that sadly, has been lost in the shuffle. CHN installed equipment at the Curry Medical Center Facility (CMC) in Brookings that Gold Beach and Port Orford residents can access only in Brookings. For internal diagnostics, the only state-of-the-art Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI) scan in the county is owned by CHN. Management chose to locate that machine at CMC because they felt that placing it in Brookings was in the best interest of balanced county services provided by the network.

This MRI equipment cost about $2.2 million. One of the talking points raised by (SCHA) was that they have to drive to Gold Beach to a hospital; however residents of the North County health district are driving to Brookings to use equipment and facilities they supported with their tax dollars, and largely accepted that money being spent in Brookings is for the good of all. Too, and as anticipated, Curry General Hospital is now starting to get patients referred from outside of our county.

We live in an area that has less than 25,000 people spread north and south over an 80-mile span. We are not a population center of 2 million. So we need to act like who and where we are, which from what I can see is exactly what CHN is doing.

Opening an emergency room in Brookings is the next logical path forward in our county, thus further addressing the South County needs. We don’t want to take our eye off the ball, so should stay focused on systematic improvements taken a step at a time.

The Community Health Needs Assessment of 2018 was a year-long effort composed of a large cross-section of Curry County residents. It identified many things we as a county need to work on for the betterment of our health care.

One of our biggest challenges is Highway 101 and it needs a lot of attention. I am working overtime around Oregon and beyond, to find solutions for those solid, long-term Highway 101 repairs and improvements that are so sorely needed.

I’m asking everyone to join in the quest for the best possible health services. For our industry, our tourism, and our overall quality of life.

Court Boice is a Curry County commissioner.