Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Opinion

August 16, 2012

GUEST COLUMN: T.J. Samson Hospital is envy of other communities

GLASGOW — America’s healthcare crisis has steadily grown over recent decades to now become arguably the most important domestic issue of our time. Individuals and organizations providing healthcare have had an ever-increasing complexity of decision-making processes to navigate while trying to provide affordable, state-of-the-art care. During this unprecedented era of change, every community in America has been joined in this struggle at one level or another.

More fortunate than most, Glasgow and Barren County have long enjoyed a robust medical community and T.J. Samson Hospital has served as a regional medical center since its inception in 1929. Over the last 80-plus years, T.J. Samson Hospital has made enormous investments in the healthcare of our community and, while some mistakes have no doubt been made over that time period, the good decisions have far outweighed the bad. While there may be legitimate debate about its ownership and governance, there should be no debate that T.J. Samson Hospital has always enjoyed the leadership and vision of able, well-meaning directors who have given freely and willingly of their time and expertise. Today’s directors are no exception.

There are many identifiable reasons for the tumultuous atmosphere in healthcare today and, depending upon one’s perspective, each of these reasons may be perceived as good or bad. With the gradual erosion of primary care, the last several decades have seen 24-hour emergency room coverage become integral to most hospital operations and, more recently, 24-hour coverage by hospitalists rendering in-hospital care has become standard practice in a growing number of our nation’s hospitals.

The financial burden of running a medical practice has surpassed the ability to survive for many primary care offices, as well as some specialty offices and has led to a nationwide surge of those offices joining larger organizations.

Accelerating governmental regulations, electronic medical records and the need for greater sophistication while negotiating insurance contracts have all contributed to the expanding migration toward larger, more integrated systems of care.

T.J. Samson Hospital has a long history of providing exemplary care to our citizens regardless of ability to pay. Its employees have always risen to whatever task was required and they reflect the good-natured, hard-working population of our region. Our hospital has demonstrated an uncommon commitment to progress evidenced by the state-of-the-art programs within its many departments. Its visionary establishment of a family medicine residency program is the envy of like-sized communities across Kentucky. It has consistently fared well with the accrediting bodies, which oversee hospital operations including its most recent survey by the Joint Commission in May 2012.

As a practicing physician in this community for the last 33 years, I have had no hesitation in recommending and utilizing our hospital for my patients, my family and myself over the entire spectrum of services available.

Uncertainty will continue to dominate the future of healthcare in America and there has never been a time of greater need for creative thinking and innovation in the delivery of healthcare services. Improving healthcare literacy among the public will be crucial in the positive effort to bring about substantive change toward a more patient-centered, outcome-based system of care. I am thankful to be part of a community that possesses both the talent and the resources to be successful in that effort.

Phillip W. Bale, MD

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