Some Barstow residents have shown their concerns that Community Health Systems, which operates Barstow Community Hospital, are scaling back its plans for the new hospital, but attempting to get Barstow's City Council involved is a bad idea.
A new hospital must be built because the existing hospital doesn't conform to state earthquake safety guidelines. The endeavor is an opportunity for the city to disentangle itself from its role in city health care. The current hospital is actually owned by the city — Community Health Systems leases the space and operates the hospital. The new hospital, to be built on land sold to CHS by the city, will now be privately owned and operated.
CHS made a big deal of its expansion plans when it announced the new hospital, but now it's pulling back a bit. The number of proposed beds in the hospital have been dropped from 60 to 30, for example. This has prompted some negative responses from community members. Some of them, such as Planning Commissioner (and past City Council candidate) Carmen Hernandez, took their concerns to a recent City Council meeting. In public comments, Hernandez worried that City Council was being pressured by the company to accept changes to the hospital.
We look at the issue a completely different way from Hernandez. We don't think the city should have much (if any) involvement in the building and operations of the hospital and are glad the two will separate in the years to come.
For anybody who thinks city government should play some oversight role in the development of the new hospital, stop for a minute and go take a look at the condition of the roads around where you live. Are these the people you want overseeing your health care?
That observation probably seems as though we're picking on the city. That's not our intent. The point is that a small town like Barstow struggles to maintain its basic infrastructure. As we pointed out last week, the city has been budgeting street projects it hasn't been able to complete. The city should be spending its time improving the infrastructure of Barstow, not trying to second guess which services a hospital should provide and how many beds it should have.
Who at the City of Barstow would have the knowledge and experience to overrule the decisions of a company that operates hospitals all across the country?