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Guest Editorial

JAN JONES-SCHENK, member Hospital Board for Park City and Summit County

Do we need a hospital in Park City? Some say with two urgent care clinics, and many hospitals in Salt Lake City, we have adequate health care services. We have 24-hour urgent care so we don’t need a hospital. Some people think urgent care is equivalent to emergency room care but that’s not true. Clinics cannot do much of what ERs can do. For example, all ERs follow national protocols for the care of patients who are diagnosed with heart attack or acute stroke. These protocols require immediate examination and initiation of specific drugs within two hours of onset. It’s easy to imagine missing that two-hour window considering travel, initial assessment and triage in the ER. Anyone who got caught in last week’s canyon travel delays can imagine the impact of such a delay when emergency care is needed. There are other kinds of care that clinics cannot do. For example, any kind of abuse situation requiring medical care (child abuse, rape, elder abuse, domestic violence) must be treated in an ER so forensic evidence related to the crime can be collected with a strict chain of evidence. Women or children seeking refuge in the Peace House for example often cannot receive necessary care here. Travel to and from Salt Lake for such care is an additional expense to the agency and an added stress for an individual during a difficult time. An emergency room would be a tremendous addition to our community but it is not the only reason to have a hospital. A recent Harvard study found that community hospitals did as good a job treating most common illnesses as academic medical centers and provided that care far more cheaply. It makes sense when you think about it. Large hospitals with a full range of specialty services are the best resources for complex care, estimated by this study to represent 35 percent of the hospital care people need. Community hospitals are actually better for routine care, which represents 65 percent of the hospital care needed. One of the greatest values a community hospital can offer is the personalized care we so value in our community and the knowledge that if you need to be referred for care that can’t be provided here, it will actually happen for only about 35 percent of the care needed. Our hospital would be able to provide care for the following needs to name just a few: Chronic diseases Women’s and children’s services General surgeries like gall bladder, biopsies, breast surgeries Radiology and imaging services Orthopedic /Sports medicine surgeries The services provided by a community hospital are determined by the community itself, through a local board whose job it is to make sure the hospital is responsive to the needs of the community. This hospital has a local board, made up of people who have lived and worked in our community for many years. The Board includes people who live throughout the county and who are invested in what this community needs and wants. Last but certainly not least, a community hospital provides a center for health education and the development and advancement of a "community-wide" health agenda. This includes things like ongoing blood drives, educational programs on health, wellness, nutrition, and health promotion efforts like flu shots, health fairs, etc. One of the keys to establishing and maintaining a healthy and sustainable community is providing for a network for health, nutrition and recreation. A hospital is essential to such a network.


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