Pressing health issue? What's yours?

John Taylor: February 26, 20070 Comments

If all the Valley's hospitals could rally around one issue, what should it be? The air tastes like burnt trash. Obesity begets diabetes which begets impotence, blindness, amputations. Limited access to health care creates a cascade of problems.

I'd like to hear your views and rationales.

Every three years, California nonprofit hospitals are required by state law (through SB 697) to undertake a community needs assessment as part of maintaining their nonprofit status.  Some years Fresno-area hospitals do it individually, sometimes they collaborate.

The talk this year has been about doing more than identifying problems; it's moved to establish ways to address an issue.  Working with health policy analysts at the Central Valley Health Policy Institute at Fresno State, Community Medical Centers and other local hospitals are looking to survey emergency room usage.  A fair amount has been written on the topic nationally, and it is admittedly a small step in resolving a panoply of regional health dilemmas.

Community is certainly well familiar with the depth of need; as the region's safety net, we deliver well over $100 million annually in uncompensated and undercompensated care.  Nobody else comes close. It's nice to think with others collaborating to shoulder more of the load, more could be done.

That may be down the road. In the meantime, please share your thoughts with me on what are the regional health care needs that hospitals should target to collaboratively address.