The Future of Health Care in the MOV

By: Roger Sheppard
By: Roger Sheppard

Quality Health Care is the Most Important Issue


There are several things I thought I'd never live long enough to see.

One was the day when Parkersburg's two hospitals would actually operate under single ownership.

But that day has come.

On Tuesday (March 1, 2011), the two hospitals signed the paperwork to join hands under the West Virginia United Health Systems banner as Camden-Clark Medical Center.

They will now be known, individually, as the St. Joseph's Campus and the Memorial Campus of the Camden-Clark Medical Center.

I'm sure there are many people in the community and at the two facilities who wish things could have continued as they were - two separate hospitals operating as two separate entities.

But wishing doesn't change the reality of health care industry as it exists now, as it has changed under the new medical program approved by Congress, and as it will exist in the future.

Every business segment - hospitals, television stations, even city governments - are having to learn to do more with less money. Why? Because in order to pay proper wages, offer decent benefits, and offer all of the services they are expected to offer, it costs more and more money. And someone has to pay the bill.

In the for-profit environment, there are often stockholders who demand a decent return on their investments. And if you have any kind of retirement plan, life insurance, or 401-K plan, you are one of those stockholders demanding a decent return.

A recent example of the difficult choices that have to be made, is the plan to reduce employment at Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of West Virginia through attrition, and the transfer of some jobs overseas. On one hand, we hate to lose the jobs. On the other hand, we want medical costs to be as low as possible. If the people overseas can do the work for less money, making it possible to control the cost of health care for you and me, isn't that a good thing? People looking for a job who can't find one, would beg to differ. See what I mean? There are no easy choices.

We can only hope that the combining of Camden-Clark and St. Joes, like the joining of Marietta Memorial and Selby General Hospitals, will help maintain high quality health care here, close to home, at a reasonable price, with the least impact on employment levels. That's what everyone wants. And that's what matters more than names on the sides of buildings.

That's this week's editorial.


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