Better health care choices


To the Editor:

Thanks, MV Times, for the well researched, clear and helpful article that still gives us hope for some better choices (“Hospital dollars to fund $1.1M in health projects,” January 7, 2010). I thought that all hope was lost in this matter a year ago, when I checked with the state staff in Boston and saw a worthless, self-serving unchanged plan re-submitted to them by Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.

Sounds like nothing has changed, and the lion’s share is still going to be gobbled up by the hospital itself in buying up and controlling primary care, controlling access to primary care, and allowing the hospital to continue to cherrypick insurance companies and deny not only hospital care but primary care to some Islanders who have the “wrong” health plan.

The new hospital really is a beautiful and large building but has no signs of improving its care or developing new clinical programs, e.g. expanding access and capability to better medical cardiology outside of the ER and beyond a few sessions a week from the Falmouth crew and one every three weeks from Boston.

Regarding primary care, in truth primary care in “the real world” (I really enjoy saying that “real world” stuff now for the first time) is always done best and much less expensively outside of hospitals.

Regarding public accountability, the hospital’s non-plan for benefiting the community will not make us healthier. Apparently they will try to do what they will do and continue what seems like overcharging us, and continue to act arrogantly turning down “low-paying” health plans that people on the mainland have access to, but we don’t and won’t. I guess there will be no more public accountability at MV Hospital than before.

Regarding having to go elsewhere for care, those of us who can’t make their delivery system work for us on-Island will continue to get our care to work on the mainland, and leave in difficult times until we are well again enough to live in our rural health care non-system.

We cannot care for family members whom we would normally bring home and care for in our Island home anymore (without fraudulently playing the Medicaid-eligibility long-term-care-asset-hiding game). So who benefits?

Tell me, again, who pledged and paid the $40 million for the building? And who’s benefiting? And why do these hungry little seagulls grab after their own community benefit dollars (other than that the dollars are there for the grabbing regardless of their intent)?

What about funding non-hospital community services, the Health Care Access program that really does benefit people in need who lose their coverage or fall through the cracks (and many still do, especially on our Island). The Health Care Access program’s benefits are very easy to measure. They have been the hospital’s biggest new “donor” for years. They have brought millions of public and private insurance dollars to the hospital and other Island health care agencies for years, and continue to chink the cracks in our fragmented and undependable health care financing system.

What about helping the rural health clinic find a bigger space (without a corporate takeover, please)?

What’s the plan to help MV Community Services a few years with some funding for children’s mental health programs that might be sustainable if the core staffing for it could be put in place for a year or two?

Apparently, there is still some hope. Go for it. I can’t help much on Island this time since I am one of those who can’t bring their medically fragile parent home to live with us without putting her in a nursing home. But if she ever needs HospiceMV care, we would bring her here in a flash. Now that’s real health care and real caring. That’s medicine as a state-of-the-heart art, not managing some commodity.

Les Holcomb