Guest Editorial, November 18-20, 2009 | ParkRecord.com

Guest Editorial, November 18-20, 2009

Donna McAleer, Park City

Today is a day worthy of reflection, celebration, and thanksgiving in Park City. Today, the People’s Health Clinic (PHC), a non-profit organization committed to providing quality medical care to the uninsured and underinsured, dedicates and moves into its own home. This permanent facility is located in the Summit County Health Services Building on the campus of the Park City Medical Center.

Although Theodore Geisel wrote "The Lorax" to chronicle of the plight of the environment, the timeless and immortal words of the Once-ler are equally appropriate to the state of health care in our country and the plight of the uninsured: "Unless someone like you care a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not."

There were a whole lot of "someones" in our community that cared a whole awful lot about ensuring all residents of Summit and Wasatch counties had access to affordable health care. The PHC is a model that is scalable on a national level. It is a demonstration of the Once-ler’s prophecy and the potential of grassroots leadership, passion, and commitment.

While the perpetual debate about national and systematic reform continues in Washington, D.C., many residents of the Park City area took action to provide care for our community’s uninsured. The selfless contributions of so many volunteer medical providers, concerned and caring residents, generous contributors, committed board members and employees of the People’s Health Clinic continue to make the outreach and delivery of basic medical care available to our uninsured and underinsured neighbors.

Since the PHC opened in 2000 in an RV, more than 25,000 patient visits have been conducted, and the savings to the health-care system is at least a hundred-fold. PHC helps to reduce health care costs in our community by offering high-quality care for disease prevention, and early treatment and diagnosis of illness, thus reducing the demand on emergency rooms for preventable, non-emergent care.

Access to affordable, quality healthcare is not a sexy issue, but it is a vital issue. A health community affects every facet of our lives; our schools, our places of work and worship, and our economy.

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Here in Park City, health care is intertwined with that of our local economy. 60% of the tax revenue in this city is derived from tourism. The vast majority of tourism related businesses depend on service workers. Within our resort community, we have both year-round residents and seasonal workers who are unable to afford the costs of health care. Small business owners, self-employed individuals, resort workers, restaurant workers, housekeepers, etc. make up the population of the uninsured here in beautiful Summit and Wasatch counties. 90% of those who are uninsured our two counties are from working families.

The vision of a few, the passion of more, and the support of many in this community make this day a celebration. However, the work is not complete. Continued support is needed. It seems that our elected representatives have forgotten that access to affordable health care is a moral issue not a political one.

PHC is a shining beacon of public, private, community and municipal cooperation. Perhaps Washington, D.C., will see that light above the mountains to the west.

Congratulations PHC!

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