THE HERALD'S VIEW
Monterey County Herald
January 15, 2012 -- If anyone had told us a decade ago that Natividad Medical Center would be financially stronger than Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital at the start of 2012, we might have suggested bed rest and medication. Natividad was the struggling county hospital and Salinas Valley was getting bigger and stronger by the day.
Back then, it was suggested now and then that the Salinas Valley would be well served if SVMH essentially took over Natividad. Now, a merger of sorts, with Natividad as a full partner, appears to be a real possibility, one that, at first blush, certainly seems like a better option than having SVMH affiliate with a national hospital chain.
The difference would be local governance and maintenance of nonprofit status for both hospitals. Decisions at nonprofit hospitals are ruled by financial considerations just as they are at for-profit chains but maintaining service as the ultimate mission has strong appeal.
We would expect some resistance from longtime SVMH supporters. Natividad has operated under the stigma that attaches itself to most county-run hospitals. But the truth is that the current management team there has performed miracles, mostly on the financial front but also in the clinics and operating rooms. Those who fear that a partnership might harm Salinas Valley need to take a closer look at the Natividad of 2012. They just might conclude that having these two institutions working together would provide better and more efficient medical care for the entire community.
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