“Not a single person at these town hall meetings has asked you to change Jackson from public to private,” President Martha Baker, RN, told Commissioner Bruno Barreiro during the final town hall meeting on Aug. 17th. “Fall back on what the people want you to do and you can’t go wrong. We need you to be accountable.”
Residents shared their stories of how Jackson changed their lives due to the quality care they received there – despite not having health insurance.
Anna Kleinholtz said her son almost lost his fingers in a motor scooter accident, but because of Jackson he was able to receive the care he needed and now has full use of his hand. The accident happened while she was between jobs and without health insurance.
“People are very fearful, very concerned about Jackson becoming private,” she said. “Most people I know in the community think that as soon as you privatize Jackson, all kinds of restrictions will come into effect. You’ll look at Jackson as a business as opposed to helping the community.”
Commissioner Barreiro said he will continue to study the final report presented by the Hospital Governance Taskforce, which recommended privatizing Jackson, but said the hospital’s current model is not sustainable. “Costs continue to go up and the funding is not there,” he said. “Something has to change. Either we make it a 100 percent public as another county department or we have a separate governing body deal with it. The current model is not working.”
Baker, the sole dissenting opinion on the Hospital Governance Task Force, said governance is not the source of Jackson’s problems. “We agree Jackson needs to be run better,” she said. “But it’s the operational efficiencies that need to be improved. Keep the public hospital of 92 years in the public’s hands.”
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