Hospital With Heart

| March 05, 2009

Editor:

How appropriate that the Journal depicted a heart on its cover for its lead story on St. Joseph's Hospital in your Feb. 12 issue ("Mending Broken Hearts."). Although you meant the heart literally, it is a profound metaphor as well.

Your writer indicated that St. Joe's used to have three quality of care problems: infections from intubation, poor recovery for strokes and poor compliance from post ER heart patients. It has already solved one (no intubation infections in the last 18 months). On the second one: Recovery for strokes usually requires a swift intervention from the onset of the stroke. I don't think Carol Harrison emphasizes enough the rural and financially fragile condition of the greater Humboldt County's. Both of these population characteristics could severely impact the outcome of stroke recovery. As for the third issue: I work for a local physician and it is my observation that non-compliance [with doctors' orders] is a huge issue among many patients for diverse different diseases.

Fortunately, it sounds like St. Joe's is working hard on changing its protocols in order to create better outcomes.

A notable metaphor for hearts is their ability to open to a greater good. St. Joseph's Hospital has a phenomenal program of donating diagnostic tests and services to people who cannot afford to pay for them. In the middle of a career change and hard transition, I leaned on their generosity. I am still very, very grateful for their mercy.

In the fiscal year 2008, the Eureka St. Joseph's Hospital donated $12,545,000 worth of medical services to those people who couldn't afford them. Redwood Memorial Hospital in Fortuna (a St. Joseph's Hospital) donated another $5,172,000 worth of services to its community. It is a shame this information didn't make it into your article.

— P. Zephyr Markowitz, Bayside

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