A six-page opinion penned by U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner Feb. 22 put an end to months of uncertainty for South County residents who worried about their healthcare safety-net. Stating that “the public interest factors weigh against the stay,” this ruling put an end to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s numerous attempts to block the $234-million sale of O’Connor and St Louise hospitals and De Paul Urgent Care Center to Santa Clara County.
Each time Becerra sought to assert and, arguably, to expand the powers of his office, local health officials, elected officials, activists, and South County residents organized rallies and social media campaigns urging him to put the interests of families ahead of his political interests. The public and private discussions about access to healthcare in our community, heartfelt testimonials shared at rallies by our friends and neighbors about their near death experiences and gratitude for those healthcare providers who quite literally saved their lives and raised awareness about healthcare challenges faced in our region are perhaps the silver lining to AG Becerra’s apparent intransigence.
Many who did not focus on health care until this sale came about were not aware that, according to Department of Public Health, Gilroy and Morgan Hill have higher mortality rates due to cancer, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, chronic lower respiratory disease and diabetes than the county’s overall population in addition to having teen birth rates that are significantly higher than the rest of the county.
This acquisition will add 456 beds to the system, on top of Valley Medical’s 380 beds, which will increase healthcare access to our community and help address these health outcomes and challenges as well as maintain access to critical healthcare services including emergency, trauma, surgical and preventive services.
As a mother, long-time resident of Morgan Hill and registered nurse, it is my hope that we will keep issues of health on our collective and personal radar. We worried about losing emergency and trauma services — let’s also focus on ensuring our family members, friends and neighbors recognize the signs and symptoms of a stroke or heart attack.
We worried about losing access to preventive care — let’s reach out to our daughters, mothers and friends to remind them to make that overdue mammography appointment or remind our fathers, brothers and husbands to schedule the dreaded prostate exam.
Let’s address the rates of diabetes by getting our hemoglobin A1C test to find out if we are prediabetic or diabetic; let’s commit to drinking water and raise awareness that one 12-ounce soda and a 20-ounce sports drink both have about nine teaspoons of sugar, and so-called energy drinks hide up to 21 teaspoons of sugar as well as risky levels of caffeine.
Let’s remind each other that studies show consuming even one sugary drink per day can result in a weight gain of about 25 pounds in one year. Let’s remind ourselves that sodium intake affects our blood pressure. Let us take advantage of the bounty that surrounds us by adding high fiber vegetables to our meals and taking inventory of our nutritional intake. Let us challenge ourselves to enjoy the beauty of South County by taking to our trails and enjoying our recreational facilities.
Finally, let us hold our elected officials accountable as they make decisions that either advance or hamper our best interests.
Claudia Rossi is a longtime Morgan Hill resident and registered nurse who was re-elected in 2018 to the Santa Clara County Office of Education.
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