READER'S EDITORIAL: CONTINUE GROSSMONT HOSPITAL & SHARP HEALTHCARE PARTNERSHIP: VOTE YES ON PROP H

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By Colleen Murphy, RN

May 15, 2014 (La Mesa)--Vote Yes on Proposition H to continue one of San Diego’s and East County’s greatest success stories --Grossmont Hospital. This premier model of public/private partnership with Sharp HealthCare combines the public resources of a state-of-the-art community hospital with a nationally recognized nonprofit healthcare system.

Grossmont Healthcare District first affiliated with Sharp in 1991, knowing that a leading private healthcare provider could operate the hospital better than government AND control government spending to the public’s benefit. Since then, Sharp has saved taxpayers millions, investing over $300 million to improve our hospital. At the same time, NO employees of the hospital have received public benefits or public pensions.

To navigate the current changes and uncertainty in healthcare, Grossmont Hospital could not have a better partner than Sharp HealthCare.  Grossmont Healthcare District Board Member Emeritus Bob Yarris remembers the Grossmont Hospital’s dire months preceding the lease agreement with Sharp HealthCare in 1991:

We had a growing number of empty beds, physicians were relocating, and we were forced to lay off valuable employees to address our ongoing budget crisis. There was deferred maintenance on all the buildings. We struggled to meet employee and physician needs and expectations. We found it impossible to compete in the growing and competitive managed care market as a stand-alone hospital. We struggled to meet all these challenges while continuing to provide the quality patient care our community was accustomed to receiving.

Now, some 22 years later, I can share from experience, having served both as an elected Grossmont Healthcare District Board member for 16 years, and the Sharp Healthcare Board for 15 years, this was without a doubt, the right and best decision for our community. Sharp Healthcare has lived up to its reputation and commitment to provide accessible, quality-driven patient care to everyone it serves. Sharp has been a professional, visionary, and respectful partner. It has meant a new life for our hospital and patients it serves.

East County needs this success story to continue. Your Yes VOTE on Prop H means:

  • Grossmont Healthcare District will extend its lease agreement with Sharp HealthCare for 30 additional years, allowing nationally recognized Sharp HealthCare to continue managing the hospital until 2051.
  • Sharp--not taxpayers--will fund necessary future hospital facility repairs and improvements, including costly earthquake safety retrofits. Sharp invests hundreds of millions of dollars in repairs and state-of-the-art, life-saving equipment at Grossmont Hospital.
  • Sharp invests in hospital improvements without further delay-including $20 million to complete the Heart & Vascular Center at no additional cost to taxpayers. Residents deserve these high quality healthcare services.

The San Diego County Taxpayers Association has endorsed Yes on H, concluding it makes good economic sense. Simply put: “Extending the lease will allow for Sharp to continue providing award winning service and investing into facilities at Grossmont Hospital rather than taxpayers.”

Sharp operates on a not-for-profit basis, guaranteeing that all profits are reinvested in our community to improve healthcare services and hospital facilities. Grossmont Healthcare District does not penalize Sharp HealthCare with a lease fee to operate the hospital. That money instead goes into patient care at Grossmont Hospital. This is the way a public/private partnership should work-where the public resources of a state-of-the-art community hospital join with an award winning nonprofit healthcare system to benefit the public.

The continuation of this incredible partnership and success story has been endorsed by both the San Diego County Republican and Democratic Parties. Every East County Mayor – El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells, La Mesa Mayor Art Madrid, Lemon Grove Mayor Mary Sessom, Santee Mayor Randy Voepel – and San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer endorse Prop H. Join hundreds of medical professionals, first responders, former patients, and leaders throughout our community supporting Prop H.

Colleen Murphy, RN  is the Sharp Experience Spokesperson. The opinions in this editorial reflect the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine. To submit an editorial for consideration,  contact editor@eastcountymagazine.org.