Our View: Clearing the lines of communication
February 3, 2010
Like several other key entities, the contributions of The Memorial Hospital in Craig to the local community are largely positive and its services completely necessary.
Still, and again like several other key agencies, the hospital and its management are not without problems.
There are clearly issues with the hospital's billing practices.
Many times, these practices are confusing to patients, and in some cases, the collection process indicates at least a miscommunication between hospital employees.
Next, given that hospital finances are an extremely odd and complex web of numbers, estimates and reimbursements, that TMH's public relations can't seem to deliver a straightforward answer to questions about finances, as well as other subjects, also is frustrating.
PR is a fine practice, and it's clear TMH puts a premium on it, but it's only effective if the public can actually understand the message. That isn't always the case with TMH.
These are some of the hospital's issues. Not all, certainly, and probably not as many as some of the more vocal critics in the community have.
But, there's a catch to this opinion piece, which is intended to fall well short of being the public bashing of TMH that those same critics seek.
What separates TMH from other highly visible, often-criticized entities in Craig and Moffat County?
Organizations such as the Moffat County School District, for instance, or the 14th Judicial District Attorney's Office, or the Craig Police Department, or Moffat County and Craig city governments?
Not much, we contend.
To be sure, each has its own shortcomings and areas for improvement. But it's just as certain, at least to this Editorial Board, that these issues do not overshadow the larger — and just as necessary — contributions these groups make to the community.
For the record, we believe TMH, despite its flaws, is working toward betterment.
Board members believe there are dedicated doctors, nurses, technicians, and other employees working on behalf of providing quality health care to our community.
Could TMH administrators do better to support these staffers and service to the public? Sure. Addressing some of the systemic problems would be a good start.
But the public could do a much better job with providing the administrators with feedback on their concerns.
Take, for instance, a woman who visited the Craig Daily Press office Monday afternoon, shortly after TMH administrators met with the Editorial Board.
She made no bones about her opposition to several operating practices at the hospital. She was quite vocal and quite animated.
Certainly, the newspaper is a place to voice concerns about public agencies.
However, wouldn't this woman have been better served by going to TMH administrators and addressing those concerns directly with them? The board thinks she would have.
Unfortunately, she is not a rarity for our community.
There are numerous members who are more at ease speculating about rumors and innuendo, and in some cases, outright falsehoods, under the cloak of anonymity rather than have a conversation face-to-face.
This is truly regrettable, and hopefully a practice that will someday change.
TMH has had a rough go lately on the PR front.
The hospital has been beaten up by some in the public. Some of it was justified.
Still, the Editorial Board supports TMH as it moves forward, and encourages the community to do the same, even if that comes in the form of taking concerns to hospital administrators, rather than launching wild and harsh comments about TMH behind closed doors.
We encourage the community to open a dialogue with hospital leaders in the future.
We're hoping they will listen and help the public as best they can.
TMH administrators have assured this board that will be the case. Time will tell if they were genuine.