Saint Louise Regional Hospital

In the best case scenario Saint Louise Regional Hospital, which is on the market along with the entire group of hospitals owned and operated by the Catholic Daughters of Charity, will be sold to a compassionate organization intent on providing quality health care to South County residents. In the worst case, scenario, there would be no takers and Saint Louise would be shuttered.
That would be a devastating blow to South County residents, our quality of life and our local economy. Besides the evaporation of more than 500 jobs from janitors to nurses and the more than 200 affiliated doctors left without a local, full care facility, there are all the ancillary losses, both economic and emotional.
Imagine a loved one in the hospital for 10 or more days and the daily toll the drive to San Jose takes. Think about the affiliated labs that process test results. Those provide jobs and rent money for commercial spaces. Then there are all the careers associated with the doctor’s world – clerks, assistants and accountants to name a few. It’s simple to draw out the domino effect.
Doctors and office workers go out to dine. They head to the movies, shop locally and pay gasoline taxes.
Saint Louise is an economic engine for the external South County world, but internally it’s been ravaged with red figures, losing more than $4 million last year. It’s unsustainable, particularly under the compassionate Daughters of Charity banner that demands care for all patients regardless of their ability to pay.
We do not pretend to understand the finances of hospitals in these times. Some community hospitals, like Salinas Valley Memorial, are solidly in the black while others are floundering. Between astronomical billings, comparatively meek insurance reimbursements and care for those without means, it’s a swamp that Saint Louise Hospital is stuck in.
The powers that be – Morgan Hill Mayor Steve Tate, Gilroy Mayor Don Gage and District One Santa Clara County Supervisor Mike Wasserman – are all hoping for the best case scenario. But we should plan for the latter. Perhaps the mayors and council members should agendize a discussion about how to proceed. A blue-ribbon task force to investigate options and communicate with the Saint Louise and Daughters of Charity boards might be in order – or perhaps a summit meeting.
It might be that South County will need to form a hospital district like that which financially supports Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital in Hollister. Or maybe the county could take over operations and run it under the wings of the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.
Point is, South County cannot afford to lose a fully-functioning Saint Louise Regional Hospital. That is obvious and, hopefully those like Chamber of Commerce directors Mark Turner in Gilroy and John Horner in Morgan Hill are starting conversations about what to do in the wake of the news. We have eight months, and no time to waste. The time to get in on the conversation is now. South County’s representatives need to make sure Saint Louise Hospital is safe.

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