Sunday, January 16, 2011

Medical Monopoly

I haven't written on this site for quite some time. Interestingly my last post was on health care and that is what has prompted me to write again. This time it was a helicopter buzzing for 15 min. several times a day just a few yards from my backyard that prompted me to examine what was going on with health care in my own community.

It isn't so much the noise and the fact that it vibrates my windows, but the motivation of the institution that has their helicopter stationed here that bothers me. I have lived here 26 years behind the helipad and never once complained. Medical helicopters save lives. We all know that.

But this was a community hospital before the Cleveland Clinic Foundation bought it out and the helipad was available to all of the medical helicopters in the area, 5 by my count within 30 miles of Medina. None of them were stationed here in a residential section of town with little space for expansion. Flights were from the hospital out to trauma centers or to the CCF or University,Rainbow babies and Akron Children's Hospital. The helipad served Medina and the surrounding area. The CCF helicopter will be going from Medina out to pick up patients within a 250 mile radius and returning to Medina to sit on the helipad awaiting an emergency call from either our hospital or another Ohio hospital, maybe even from neighbouring states.

Now maybe I am just a cynic, but it appears the Cleveland Clinic is attempting to create a health care monopoly, not only in the Cleveland area, but expanding South with their purchase and plans for Medina General Hospital. They are avoiding creating new facilities or closing services in the costly areas of the inner cities where citizens often have no health care or are on government provided plans like Medicare or Medicaid, and instead gobbling up hospitals that would strategically place them where there are many wealthy suburbanites with health insurance. They will leave the trauma care to the likes of Metro and Akron General while taking away their competitions' most lucrative patient base with competing facilities linked to the CCF.

Trauma is expensive for hospitals.
"Individual trauma centers are historically expensive to operate. Patients require helicopters, high-end equipment and top-notch surgeons to be ready at a moments notice. And often, trauma patients cannot afford the services they receive, making the trauma department a money-losing area for many hospitals.

For example, about 7 to 9 percent of MetroHealth's patients are trauma but those patients make up about 16 percent of the system's uncompensated care. MetroHealth, which is supported by Cuyahoga County taxpayers, serves some of the highest volumes of poor patients in the region." Sarah Jane Tribble, The Plain Dealer

Within a short walk from my house and the MGH/CCF there is now a new urgent care center associated with University Hospital and there will soon be a new Emergency room built by Summa Hospitals associated with Akron General. CCF has plans to expand and improve their emergency room. We do have emergencies here in Medina County, but I think this is more a matter of intense competition to gain market share more than an effort to serve the community. One wonders about the future. What if the CCF wins the competition? What if they have their monopoly? Is NE Ohio putting all its eggs in one health care basket? Didn't we learn a lesson from Lebron James? When you have a national reputation (in this case a worldwide reputation) community takes a back seat to ambition. When the Clinic decides to dump us what players will be left to pick up the pieces of our health care, and who will play in the Medical Mart we are building?

So while I may complain about the noise of helicopters, the rest of you should be concerned and ask questions about what the Clinic has in mind for the Cleveland area. The are expanding to Du Bhai, and have looked around for other university partners,

1 comment:

Cheyanne (Shy Ann) said...

WOW...Cee Jay great to hear from ya...great blogpost....I almost thought you'd fallen off the Earth or something....yipppeee Cee Jay's blogging again.