On June 5, 1966, I recited the Hippocratic oath before receiving my medical degree.
The oath stated that I was to “apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures … required,” in a “warm, sympathetic, and understanding way.” That oath defined for me the standard by which I would apply my medical skills.
After completing my residency in pediatrics, I began my practice in a small college town. I expected to be available to my patients 24/7 since there was no delineation between primary care, after-hours or urgent care. And my family practice peers did the same. Things have changed since then, for many different reasons, and not necessarily to our liking.
Now, availability of care 24/7 is not guaranteed and it potentially comes at a price. And if we lose medical care, it can become expensive. As a pediatrician and in keeping with the American Academy of Pediatrics, I saw infants six times in their first year of life. Imagine the cost if those children needed to be taken off island for those exams — time away from work, travel expenses, meals, etc. More importantly, if those children are not seen, there is a risk of not discovering conditions the consequence of which would seriously impact that child and his/her parents, which occurred many times in the course of my career. I suspect that our adult primary care physicians had similar experiences.
Therefore, the seminal issue for me is the passage of the PHD, thereby guaranteeing access to qualified physicians now and in the future. Without it, most options are off the table. If the UW and/or OFHC close their doors, and without adequate funding, it will be difficult to attract quality physicians who expect competitive compensation, shared call, support for Continual Medical Education, time off, retirement and insurance benefits.
A Public Hospital District, by providing sustainable and predictable funding, will be the essential ingredient in assuring that we have the quality of health care that we deserve. VOTE YES for San Juan Co. Public Hospital District No. 3.