Vote Colthurst and Smith if You Want Our Health Care District to Survive: Commentary We the people agree that the public welfare is improved by having a hospital in the community

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Thoughts on present election for the Palm Drive Health Care District Board election November 6:

We are at a crossroads—for the District as for the country.  Will “we the people” agree to oligarch style leadership or do we wish to retain our democracy? Will we vote to further the personal economic agenda of the few or vote to keep a community health resource for the many?

Oligarchy, an operating/governing style through the ages, allows people of wealth and power to control all decisions—true in corporations (think Walmart) and in government—Russian Tsars, Saudi Arabia, most monarchies, all dictatorships, etc.  Oligarchs make decisions to further personal power and wealth. There is no interest in the welfare of the people in general. We fought a revolution against King George and his policies for the colonies in order to gain democracy for “we the people.”

Here in West Sonoma County,  we have a similar situation.  We have a small vocal group of people, many of whom chose to detach from our Health Care District, who would close the hospital and the district—removing an important resource to our community.

Their major argument is that the hospital cannot be profitable and people pay up to $155 tax annually for a failing facility.  Their position is If we but elect smart business people, represented by Richard Power, the problem will be solved because he promises to close the hospital and district.  The sale of the property should help reduce (not eliminate) any outstanding debt and people ultimately (not immediately) will save $155/year or the cost of a night out with dinner and theater.  Never mind that the community will no longer have a healthcare facility; never mind that people will die.

Make no  mistake—most of the loud voices promoting this concept have admitted they never used Palm Drive Hospital or its successors, they are Kaiser patients.  Most detached from the District. They frankly don’t care that their money approach will deny community services to people who do live in the District.

We always knew that a small rural hospital was not a profitable situation.  That was why we taxed ourselves.  We the people agree that the public welfare is improved by having a hospital in the community and, as democracy is messy, we chose deliberately to fund a resource rather than looking at personal financial gain.

Just as several American systems make no real larger economic sense for the US budget or corporate bottom line, such as Social Security,  Medicare, etc., we the people see these as important to the public welfare and we are willing to tax ourselves because we are committed to the greater good of our community and our people as  nation.  So, also, for our District. We have the same choice now…to keep our hospital and health care district or to succumb to the financial arguments of the few who want to save $155/year in taxes instead of investing In community healthcare.

Democracy beats oligarchy every time.  We the people need to demand that our elected officials continue to keep healthcare in our community. The hospital is currently building and  thriving under new management including elective surgeries, laboratory outpatient services, imaging and 3-D mammogram.  It is providing long-term acute care for patients in Sonoma County.  Soon it will add a robust urgent care unit which will serve 90% of the cases formerly served by our emergency department.

Please stand with me and support Dennis Colthurst and Dan Smith for District Directors.  They have both devoted hours and made huge personal sacrifices to keep a hospital in our community.  Vote Colthurst and Smith.

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Gail Thomas

Gail Thomas has held major management and consulting positions in the public and private sector including Duke University Medical School and consultant to NIH. She has been active in community service serving as Director for Restorative Resources, Rotary, Red Cross, YWCA, and church organizations. she currently serves on the board of the Palm Drive Health Care District.

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