By Tony Ruiz
Our community will soon face many unprecedented challenges resulting from a dramatic population increase. A significant portion of the new residents will be seniors and the most immediate impact will be on our health services.To maintain the current level of service and quality of care will be difficult. To determine what new services should be provided will be even more difficult. Any changes or additional services must be sustainable.
The role of community hospitals is becoming increasingly progressive. In addition to treating illness and injuries, they are taking on the broader role as a community health leader. This process has already started here in San Benito County.
As the community continues to grow, some of the following services and programs will be considered:
- Dialysis Center. Currently, local citizens needing this service must travel to Gilroy or Salinas. For those patients who require frequent treatment this is a great burden.
- Hazel Hawkins does not have a trauma center for serious injuries. Currently, patients needing emergency treatment are taken by helicopter to the San Jose area. And, as our population grows and becomes more physically active, we will need to consider such a center.
- Our County Health Department is underfunded and in need of a full- time director. What changes locally can be made in the future to bring this department to an adequate and functional level deserving of our community? In the interim, there is an opportunity for the community hospital to provide preventative health leadership.
- Diabetic treatment and diabetic prevention through education, especially aimed at our young citizens, is critical.
The changing demographics will serve as a beacon in our progress. The health professionals will carve the path to solutions and changes. The Health Care District directors, representing the community, will have a vital role in overseeing and providing integrity to community health and care delivery to our growing population as we move forward.
Tony Ruiz is a candidate for the Hazel Hawkins District board.