Why we need VMC

Valley Medical CenterThe day started like any other in the Emergency Department of Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (VMC) – fast-paced and action-packed. But as morning turned to afternoon, the staff knew something was different. New patients just kept coming; via ambulance, helicopter and walking themselves through the door. It was a rush like no other.

By day’s end, over 500 patients had come through the door for treatment, more than double the daily average from six years ago. It was a new record. And this was just a regular day, seemingly like any other. There were no major storms or disasters to speak of – just a lot of sick and injured people who needed to see a doctor. The day was emblematic of the challenges facing the Santa Clara Valley Health & Hospital System (SCVHHS). As the economy has worsened, more and more residents of Santa Clara County have nowhere else to turn when they need medical attention.

The backbone of this community’s health system

In fact, fully one-quarter of all Santa Clara County residents get their care at Valley Medical Center and VMC community clinics. From primary care for children, to emergency care for adults, VMC forms the backbone of this community’s health system. As a teaching hospital, VMC trains an overwhelming number of local physicians and nurses, including all Stanford University School of Medicine students. VMC operates the busiest emergency department in the region, and one of only two burn trauma units in northern California.

But as costs rise and public dollars decline, the staff of VMC has to do more with less. In fact, over the past 10 years, the patient demand for SCVHHS services has doubled, all the while undergoing nearly a decade of year-after-year budget cuts. In that time, SCVHHS staff has gone to enormous lengths to realize efficiencies, reduce waste, innovate, and find ways to serve more people with less money. But if current trends continue, VMC will face dire financial and operational challenges.

All of us have a stake

For these reasons and more, all of us, regardless of where we get our healthcare, have a stake in the future of VMC. No other public institution – save the folks who bring us clean drinking water – do more to protect the health and well-being of this community than VMC. Without it, emergency departments at private hospitals would be overwhelmed, contagious diseases would go unchecked, and hundreds of thousands of our neighbors, co-workers, and friends would be without care.

Since 1988, the VMC Foundation has raised donations from the community to support programs and service at VMC when public dollars have been cut. Over $35 million has been raised to purchase life-saving equipment, protect programs on the chopping block, and help make VMC the finest county hospital in the United States.

The doors of Valley Medical Center are open all, regardless of ability to pay.

Our job is to keep it that way.

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