Our Best Hope
We have been long-time financial supporters of Palm Drive Hospital, and have given countless hours of our time as well. As crazy as it may seem to some, we are ready to do it again because we know that a dynamic new Sonoma West Medical Center can be financially viable. It can bring back 175 well-paying jobs to our community, keep our physicians in town and save many lives in the coming years. That looks like a winner to us.
We realize that it takes a leap of faith to envision something wonderful where there has been a great calamity, but isn't that what life is about—turning our setbacks into new opportunities? Instead of listening to the erroneous reasons why we can't be successful, lets work together to figure out how we can.
Thomas Edison built 9,000 light bulbs before he built one that worked. Steve Jobs bombed with the Apple 3, the Lisa and Next. Armand Hammer went bankrupt seven times before becoming a billionaire. (He commented late in life that he wished he had done it more often because he learned so much each time.) Marconi built lots of radios that didn't work before he was able to transmit across the Pacific. All of these people and millions of others became successful for one reason: they didn't accept failure as their life story, they kept trying.
As Naomi Newman says, "Fall-down-get-up should be all one movement. Some people fall down and just lie there for the rest of their lives." Is that who we want to be? We think not. West County residents are resilient and community-spirited. Our fire departments are staffed with volunteers, our schools are some of the best in the nation, thanks to parents who take an active role. We stopped PGE from building a nuclear power plant at Bodega Head, we built the Kortum Trail, we saved the Laguna, and we have saved our hospital before, so why stop now?
Having said this, we should learn from the past, not repeat it. The lessons here seem very clear to us: We need a different governance structure for our hospital. Other hospital districts, like Marin, have already learned this lesson and have built large nonprofit boards of business leaders to manage their operations very successfully. Also, healthcare has migrated to outpatient care and we have to build a great ambulatory program. We have to have specialties that are in demand; we have to be better than others at some things and let people know about it; and we have to manage our costs like any other successful business.
The new plan that is forming incorporates these lessons and builds on the clinical excellence of Palm Drive, a superlative small hospital that was rated number one in California for patient safety and number five in the nation by Consumer Reports in the same month it was closed.
We invite everyone to join us on this amazing journey of creativity and perseverance that includes our local physicians, leaders like Gail Thomas, Dr. Richard Powers, Dennis Colthurst, Dr. James Gude, and many others. There is still a lot of hard work ahead but we know from history that once the dust settles, people will line up to join the parade. By being a part of this dynamic movement, the life you save may be your own.
Is there or has there ever been a movie that Richard von Busack likes?
Check the Facts
With over 60 billion food animals on the planet, our best chance to mitigate climate change is to severely reduce consumption of animal foods ("Fight of our Lives," Oct 15). More than one-third of human-induced warming is attributable to animal agriculture. Methane is 24 times more potent than CO2 but takes only seven years to cycle out of the atmosphere; CO2 takes around a hundred years to come out. Human pursuit of animal protein is the leading cause of methane release and a primary cause of CO2 concentrating in the atmosphere. Check the facts and act!
"As environmental science has advanced, it has become apparent that the human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future: deforestation, erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities, and the spread of disease."—Worldwatch Institute, "Is Meat Sustainable?"
"If every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetables and grains, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads."—Environmental Defense Fund.
"A 1 percent reduction in world-wide meat intake has the same benefit as a $3 trillion investment in solar energy." —Chris Mentzel, CEO of Clean Energy.
Editor's note: Read our cover story this week for a different take on beef's impact on the environment.
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