Transportation and … health care?

CJ Grimes works as a community health care organizer with Service Employees International Union, Local 49 on the Make Health Care Work Campaign (MHCW). MHCW is a coalition of health care advocates, front line caregivers and consumers working to give the community a guaranteed voice in regional health care planning. You can contact CJ directly at cjgrimes@seiu49.org.

What on earth does transportation have to do with health care? There’s the obvious: physical exercise and cutting down on pollution make healthier people and communities. Is there a deeper connection?

CJ Grimes works as a community health care organizer with Service Employees International Union, Local 49 on the Make Health Care Work Campaign (MHCW). MHCW is a coalition of health care advocates, front line caregivers and consumers working to give the community a guaranteed voice in regional health care planning. You can contact CJ directly at cjgrimes@seiu49.org.

What on earth does transportation have to do with health care? There’s the obvious: physical exercise and cutting down on pollution make healthier people and communities. Is there a deeper connection?

Recently, an older man took the Max out to Beaverton. There was obviously something wrong with him. When asked if he needed help, he wanted to know which stop on the line was the St. Vincent’s Medical Center stop. He said he was very ill and was trying to get to the emergency room. He could not walk the distance from the Max to the hospital, so someone ended up driving him there.

How do we get to our medical facilities when we are sick or seeking preventative care? Where are these facilities located? What is being done to ensure that the current and projected hospital infrastructure reflects our current and projected transportation infrastructure? Since 50% of the $5 billion that flows through Oregon hospitals yearly comes from our tax dollars, shouldn’t we have a say in planning for our communities’ health needs?

Recently, Legacy built a hospital in Salmon Creek. There was no discussion of what impact that would have on the transportation needs of the region, and as a result, the public and the hospital corporation had to spend unanticipated millions to shore up the roads surrounding the hospital. Providence wants to build a hospital out near Happy Valley, miles away from any city center in an area without any proposed light rail. Shouldn’t our health care infrastructure reflect our transportation infrastructure and our long term regional plans?

The Make Health Care Work Plan has a solution: you and I. We should have a say in community health care planning, (especially since we are the ones footing the bill). Here’s the three-step solution:

  1. Metro convenes a Community Health Care Needs Board comprised of citizens from all parts of the metropolitan area, representing those who consume health care, those who purchase health care and frontline caregivers who provide health care.
  2. The Board creates a Comprehensive Community Health Plan to objectively assess the regional health care needs of our communities.
  3. The Board would prepare a Health Care Impact Statement each time new facilities are built or expanded, or existing facilities are closed, to hold hospitals accountable to our health and transportation needs.

Hospitals are necessary and important parts of our communities. We go there to heal, when we or someone we know is sick or hurt, and when we are celebrating new life in our families. Many of us go there to work – in fact hospital systems are some of the biggest employers in the Portland area.

Hospitals are important parts of our lives and our economy, so we invest heavily in them as taxpayers and patients. We want to make sure that health care planning happens with our input—and now we have a chance to ensure a regional health care delivery system that makes sense for all of us. Make Health Care Work. For more information, please go to MakeHealthCareWork.org or call 503.236.7850.

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