When I first read that big changes were coming to Sutter Health, I initially thought that bigger and better things were in store for Scotts Valley. I shared in our community’s collective shock, however, when I discovered that PAMF was in fact ending its urgent care services at the end of August. I was less than reassured when I pondered the official statement offered by a Sutter spokesperson:
“As part of our commitment to providing safe, personal, affordable care, we regularly assess our service offerings to better steward our resources and meet the changing needs of our patient population….”
And there it was: a corporate-generated euphemistic and ambiguous assurance that things were really getting better, even though a huge portion of health care was being scuttled and shipped miles away.
Trying to be fair-minded, I tried to consider the motivations for such a change. In the end, it came down to a business decision with space and personnel limitations as justifications for such a radical transition. Sounds reasonable, until you consider that this is not a restaurant or a barber shop that is changing its menu or closing on weekends. This is a facility that provides essential services that cannot be replicated by diverting patients six miles away. PAMF’s responsibilities lie in enhancing services, not diminishing them.
“Protect and Serve.” This motto is not just for our police force, but words that should be adopted by Sutter Health in meeting the health care needs of our community. Providing hollow arguments and rationalizations under the banner of a “business decision” is disingenuous and harmful to the people that need and rely upon their services. If there is any doubt in how to proceed, I would ask the Sutter Health Corporation to refer to its mission, vision and values listed on its website.
Vision: “Sutter Health leads the transformation of healthcare to achieve the highest levels of quality, access and affordability.”
Mission: “We enhance the well-being of people in the communities we serve through commitment to compassion and excellence in healthcare services.”
For years, our community has relied upon the excellent services provided by this clinic. Doctors Zweng, Koopman and Mears are among the finest health care professionals that meet the demands of our community. The sense of loss runs deep for mothers whose baby is running a fever, for kids injured in a soccer game or seniors whose heart palpitations need a diagnosis and explanation.
In the face of challenges, we look for PAMF to make creative appraisals and solutions. Sadly, their current corporate navigation is not re-alignment, but abandonment. Our request is that they listen to the apprehension their actions have caused and make a better and more compassionate decision.
For anyone in the public who has a concern about the closing of urgent care services, please attend a town hall meeting this Saturday, July 24, from 10am to noon at Macdorsa Park (behind City Hall) to have a conversation on this vital subject.
Randy Johnson is a Scotts Valley City Councilmember. His views are his own, and not necessarily those of the Press Banner.