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CEO: State's healthcare system in trouble

Posted: March 22, 2008 2:10 a.m.
Updated: May 23, 2008 5:02 a.m.
Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital CEO and President Roger Seaver dived

into the issues of overcrowded emergency rooms, hospital staff shortages and technology shortcomings in relation to the bigger crisis of California's healthcare system during the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce's quarterly luncheon on Thursday.

Seaver, who served as the keynote speaker, addressed the room filled with local business leaders about the effects of the obstacles in light of numerous hospitals in Southern California closing their doors permanently over the past years.

The key is-sues with California's healthcare crisis ad-dressed by Seaver revolve around employee and physician shortages, the need for more technology investments, and overwhelmingly busy emergency rooms that result in an "erosion of quality and personal attention" for patients.

Seaver offered the statistic that 70 California hospitals and ERs have closed in the last 10 years.

That amounts to around two or three hospitals in the San Fernando Valley.

"It's fair to say that there is a crisis," Seaver said.

But with an obligation to adequately treat people, Seaver said the current question involves where people will be  treated when their nearest hospital closes.

Seaver offered the recent closure of Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital in South Los Angeles, which was shut down last August after failing to meet federal standards, as a way to illustrate how many hospitals are impacted by the one closure.

"We see the system breaking down," he said while standing next to a PowerPoint slide of a map detailing surrounding hospitals affected by the King-Harbor closure.

He said that at some point, other regions that offer hospital care will have to be opened up to aid other care centers in trouble.

"This is a system in jeopardy of being maintained," he said.

Seaver also explained the other issues of California's nurse shortage, the state budget deficit and general lack of funding as reasons for the breakdown in the healthcare system.

As for initiating political reform to the healthcare crisis, Seaver highlighted the recent political plans, but noted that the healthcare crisis has lost its momentum and as the current 2008 presidential candidates continue to push their solutions, Seaver said that during the next presidential term, healthcare reform "will be on the presidential table."

Seaver ultimately left the crowd of business leaders with a list of other possible solutions for the healthcare crisis, which included people taking personal responsibility for their health, hospitals striving to be more efficient, physicians working to promote the most appropriate care to patients and health plans that focus on disease management and real quality.


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