Labor & Delivery still not out of woods

Published 12:59 pm Monday, April 18, 2011

An important step was taken Wednesday toward salvaging Demopolis’ labor and delivery services.

That step wasn’t in the extension of a 90 day evaluation period. That step came from a room full of people, all with the same goals, all on the same page.

The gravity of the situation is this: The hospital is far from financially sound. Some departments lose money. That’s not a secret and it wasn’t a secret Wednesday.

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Any business that operates at a loss needs to evaluate its practices, regardless of whether it’s a hospital, a newspaper, a gas station or fruit stand.

Red ink is bad. Black ink is good.

The hospital board spelled its circumstances out plainly for the 20-plus people gathered in the board room. Their strife and frustrations were both plainly clear and genuine.

Ironically, as Dr. Maurice Fitz-Gerald opened the meeting, a lullaby played softly over the hospital’s public address system. Maybe it wasn’t irony. Maybe it was serendipitous. Maybe it was luck. It was for sure chilling to those of us who heard it.

Here we were looking at pages of numbers while simultaneously welcoming a new child into the world two floors above us; in the very department that has been identified for closure.

Demopolis Mayor Mike Grayson may have best summed up the feelings of the “innocent bystanders” in the room by calling for actions and solutions that didn’t require the elimination of the labor and delivery department.

Salvation of the department is a coin has two heads.

You can’t jeopardize the fiscal health of the hospital at the expense of saving one department. On the other head, you can’t cut such a critical service and expect little to no residual side effects.

At a work session Tuesday, Demopolis councilman Thomas Moore said something that resonated with me.

One of the reasons I decided to move to Demopolis in 2008 was the reputation the city and its leadership has for tackling issues that other towns have struggled with.

Moore said, plainly, that Demopolis has historically found solutions in some of the most complex issues and thrived during and after the process.

That’s the Demopolis I had heard of before I moved here, and that’s the Demopolis I’m proud to call my home now.

The hill we, the hospital, the board of directors and physicians now face is steep. And it’s going to take us all pulling in the same direction, all on the same rope, to climb it.

Jason Cannon is the publisher of The Demopolis Times.