I have always been extremely proud of my hometown. Born at Tulare District Hospital and raised in Tulare, I chose to return to Tulare after college and dental school, establish my dental practice here and give birth to my two children at Tulare District Hospital. Tulare is where my husband and I have raised our children. My whole life has revolved around Tulare and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
During the first bond election, you may have received a phone call from me or others urging you to vote for the bond. At that time, community leaders were behind the tower project 100%, and they should have been. There were stated goals, a budget and overall transparency.
However, this time around is very different. I cannot support a bond which gives money to people who will not say who they are, will not tell us who the potential contractors are or give us a budget itemization of cost. Especially after the misuse of the first bond monies, HCCA and the Board should be answering these questions. I will not support a rubber stamp Board who has given away all of their authority to a private company. How can this Board claim to represent the people? They have already approved a 15-year contract, with 10-year automatic renewals, which gives our public hospital away. There is so much wrong with this contract that it would take at least a 5-page newspaper exposé to thoroughly cover every facet.
It pains me to see that the hospital has declined as it has. Providing excellent, safe and compassionate care has taken a backseat to greed and the almighty dollar exhibited by the management and the Board. This should never be a knock on the many good and dedicated employees of our hospital who are caught up in this vortex.
As a healthcare professional, as a wife, as a mother and a primary caregiver to my aging parents, I am deeply concerned about this 40-year bond.
As a healthcare provider, it disturbs me greatly when my patients relate sad, yet avoidable stories from their experiences at our hospital. As a mother, I feel sorry for expectant mothers of today, who cannot have the experience I had of giving birth at Tulare District Hospital in the 1990’s. This was at a time when it was becoming popular to go to Kaweah. I chose Tulare hospital for the hometown sense of family and community from the doctors, nurses and staff.
As a caregiver for my parents, I would absolutely love for doctors’ appointments to be in Tulare, so as to not miss so much of my workday. Unfortunately, most of the doctors in town have lost full privileges at the hospital at the hands of the Board. I know that in the middle of the night, if I get the call that one of my parents needs ambulance service, they will be heading to Kaweah and if Kaweah is overcrowded, they may end up elsewhere. This is not as it should be.
Back in 2003, my father had a stroke and I was fortunately present to witness the tell-tale signs. I took him immediately to our hospital (only a 3-minute drive). I drove up to the emergency room door and told the medical personnel that my father was having a stroke. No one asked me for insurance information before treatment. They triaged him and gave him the necessary clot-busting drug and then determined through blood work that he had had a recent heart attack.
This was truly life-saving, and at 95, he is sharp as a tack, writing powerful letters to the Editor on this very issue. I have no confidence that this scenario would happen today at the Tulare hospital. I would be calling 911 and the emergency personnel would transport to Kaweah Delta. This is true for any cardiac event or any serious fall requiring orthopedics as well.
This is why we citizens need to come together and save our hospital. This is just the beginning but we can and will succeed in restoring our hospital, including finishing the tower. Not, however, with this Board and HCCA at the helm. We have a fantastic group of community leaders ready and willing to help save our public hospital. Join me and my dad, Dr. Tom Drilling, and the rest of my family and friends in voting NO on Measure I.
Dr. Patricia Drilling