Coos Bay, OR, August 10, 2022 — Bay Area Hospital is a small hospital with a big mission. That was the theme that characterized reports from board members and staff at last night’s meeting of the Bay Area Hospital District’s Board of Directors. From details of the recent very successful Joint Commission re-accreditation visit to two successfully concluded union contracts and news about imminent capital improvements to the hospital’s infrastructure, the news was upbeat despite the ongoing impacts of the COVID 19 pandemic on staffing and supply chains, together with unprecedented financial challenges.
To put those challenges in perspective, Board Chair Dr. Tom McAndrew stated, “Bay Area Hospital is the essential healthcare center for the south coast. We are an independent not-for-profit public hospital and the largest employer in the county with a yearly payroll of $120 million. We are not supported by tax dollars, nor do we have a larger organization to lean upon, so we have had to make hard choices in the last few months to allow us to go forward in our essential mission, caring for our community.”
A second, but equally important theme of the meeting was the need for collaboration for change, especially advocacy at the capitol to improve the state of psychiatric care across Oregon. Bay Area Hospital is now the only hospital on the coast with an adult inpatient psychiatric unit, which places an undue financial burden on our small community. Of the 60 hospitals in Oregon state, only 12 have inpatient units, and only three receive any sort of subsidy to assist with the significant financial drain imposed by such a unit. Addressing the complex issues in providing behavioral health care is not a stand-alone responsibility– it requires a team of organizations and community leaders working together to create solutions.
The Bay Area Hospital board itself is composed of six highly experienced community leaders chosen during the regular election cycle by members of the community they serve. As they finalize goal metrics for the coming fiscal year, board members are working diligently to further educate themselves on the latest national trends across the healthcare spectrum. In this connection, they welcomed detailed input on the state of the nursing profession in the US from Carma Erickson-Hurt, a former Navy nurse and professor at our local college of nursing. She spoke at length about reasons for the national shortage of nurses and warned that fully one-third of those who are currently employed are reaching retirement age. This, coupled with a growing population of senior citizens, is cause for concern. She commended Bay Area Hospital leaders for their substantial investment in educating nurses through the college and for providing valuable clinical experience to this next generation of caregivers.
At the conclusion of the meeting, several letters from recent patients expressing gratitude for exemplary service by were shared by hospital CEO, Brian Moore. One patient, who self-identified as a “cath lab expert,” reported an outstanding experience in the cardiac catheterization lab. Another expressed enormous gratitude for the highest level of care and individually recognized several Bay Area Hospital staff members.
Dr. McAndrew replied, “Perhaps, we have not done a good job in telling our story in the past, but we are now determined to report to our employees and our constituents on a regular basis. We are a small hospital with a big mission– improving the health of our community every day—and we want them to share our pride in this accomplishment.”
The Board will meet again on September 13.
Bay Area Hospital improves the health of our community every day and offers a comprehensive range of diagnostic and therapeutic services spanning medical, surgical, pediatric, critical care, home health, outpatient and acute psychiatric, oncology, obstetrical, and other specialties.