V I E W P O I N T S
Editor's Note: This is a press release from CHI Memorial Hospital that I think requires a little explanation, and to be run as sort of an open letter rather than a straight news piece.
One of the most chilling reminders that our health care system is neither perfect nor designed with the patient's best interests at heart is when hospitals squabble among themselves to protect their turf. That happens around here practically any time somebody tries to open a new medical facility. The big players lawyer up and try to prevent the governing state agency from allowing the usurper to open, not in order to improve the lot of medical consumers but to protect what hospital CEOs call their "books of business" and we call things like "cancer," "heart disease," "hospice care," et cetera.
That is what is happening here. In this release, CHI says Erlanger is trying to block it from opening a northwest Georgia cancer treatment center and asks for your help in that struggle. The Planet will now shut up and let CHI make its own case.
On Monday, June 25, 2018, the Georgia Department of Community Health announced its approval of CHI Memorial Hospital Georgia's certificate of need application to provide full-service cancer services with new equipment at CHI Memorial Parkway in Ringgold. We are prepared to upgrade our linear accelerator to provide full-service cancer services as early as September.
The only thing that could delay this start is an appeal of the decision by Erlanger Health System. Erlanger's application for a new cancer center in Ringgold was denied. Only Erlanger can delay the community's cancer care by trying to block CHI Memorial from providing care to the people of North Georgia. Access to radiation oncology at CHI Memorial Parkway could be delayed by two years or more as the issue is resolved through the legal process. Hundreds of people will be denied access to life-saving care close to home.
We need your voice. We need you to take action today. Through the CHI Memorial Now! Initiative, we want to work with the citizens in North Georgia, a community that needs cancer care now. Talk to your neighbors, go online to CHIMemorialNOW.org<http://www.chimemorialnow.org/> and sign the online petition. Let's stand together for cancer care now.
"Erlanger had its opportunity to invest in radiation oncology services over the three years it managed Hutcheson Medical Center, yet failed to do so", says Larry Schumacher, CHI Memorial CEO and senior vice president of operations, Southeast Division, Catholic Health Initiatives". "It also owned the land for its proposed cancer center for 10 years, but again failed to take steps to create a cancer center."
"Each year, more than 500 people travel from this Georgia region for cancer care when they could stay near home for care", says Edward Arrowsmith, M.D., medical oncologist at CHI Memorial Rees Skillern Cancer Institute. "People should not have to travel great distances to obtain life-saving radiation therapy. Extensive travel for treatment can be exhausting for the individual and challenging for family members who are there to help."
CHI Memorial has developed expertise in oncology, cardiology, and orthopedics that is unmatched by other area hospitals", says Schumacher. "As we have become widely recognized for excellence, we are excited to bring our expertise and capabilities to the North Georgia region."
Providing full-service cancer care is part of the initiative CHI Memorial began several years ago to expand the availability of quality healthcare to the residents of North Georgia. We identified opportunities for primary care providers to join CHI Memorial Medical Group in Chickamauga, LaFayette, Ringgold, and Trenton; and we now have 19 providers caring for thousands of people. We also recently invested in bringing specialty care to the region, with the addition of The Chattanooga Heart Institute and Pediatric Diagnostic Associates.
Last year, we strengthened our commitment by investing in much needed advanced medical services for the people who live and work in North Georgia through the acquisition of the former Cornerstone Medical Center - now CHI Memorial Hospital Georgia - and Hutcheson on the Parkway - now CHI Memorial Parkway.
We have made significant strides in advancing health care services to the community by expanding the availability of in-patient beds at CHI Memorial Hospital Georgia, establishing a hospitalist program, increasing access to imaging services, and initiating EMS ambulance services to facilitate quick transfers when a higher level of care is needed.
About CHI Memorial: CHI Memorial is a not-for-profit, faith-based healthcare organization dedicated to the healing ministry of the Church. Founded by the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth and strengthened as part of Catholic Health Initiatives, it offers a continuum of care including preventative, primary and acute hospital care, as well as cancer and cardiac care, orthopedic and rehabilitation services. CHI Memorial is a regional referral center of choice with 3,500 associates and more than 600 affiliated physicians providing health care throughout Southeast Tennessee, North Georgia and Northwest Alabama. To learn more, visit www.memorial.org