The budget crisis hits VMC hard, and we are truly at risk

This week was a rough one, friends…the county budget crisis is very real, and very bad: The Santa Clara Valley Health & Hospital System stands to lose nearly forty million dollars – just to start. Since 2002, cuts exceed $250,000,000. The Mercury News has been reporting on this daily, and the bad news doesn’t stop there: The Governor’s proposed budget (among other bad things) will drop a million Californians from Medi-Cal, according to Assemblyman Jim Beall with whom I had lunch today. He’s pretty upset, as am I, as should we all be.

We should also remember what’s at risk: It’s not just the “safety net”, but also amazing programs that contribute to the quality of life in Silicon Valley for everyone, rich or poor. Please read the following excerpt from an email that SCVHHS CEO Kim Roberts sent to all employees of SCVHHS just a few minutes ago:

While these fiscal issues may seem overwhelming, we continue – every day – to provide remarkable services and value to our community. HHS is currently nowhere near being able to do all that we want to do for our patients, clients, and community. There is the real possibility that we will be forced to do less in the future. Through it all, we make an important, personal and positive difference to nearly 250,000 people each year.

I had an opportunity to highlight some of our good work during the Budget Workshop. One point I made was about the positive external validation we get with all the awards we receive. The short list includes:
• The Traumatic Brain Injury program at SCVMC is one of 14 such programs in the United States to get a Model System of Care grant from the National Institute on Disability & Rehabilitation Research.
• Pediatric Healthy Lifestyle Center has received numerous awards, including the National and California Associations of Public Hospitals and the YMCA Activate America Award.
• Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, Health Officer, was the 2008 Early Intervention Program Special Honoree at the 20th Anniversary conference of the State Office of AIDS.
• Children’s Shelter & Custody Health Services received full accreditation from the Institute for Medical Quality.
• By fully integrating the community in their MHSA planning process and involving more that 10,000 people (speaking 5 different languages), the Mental Health Department was recognized by the California Mental Health Directors Association for having one of the broadest and most inclusive MHSA planning processes.
• The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at SCVMC is the only on in Northern California to get the March of Dimes NICU Family Support Center designation.
• SCVMC was selected to participate in the State’s Coverage Initiative and, through the efforts of CHS, has one of the highest enrollments of any participant.
• The Children’s Health Initiative was recognized at the Santa Clara County Children’s Summit.
• Next week, the American Red Cross will honor the SCVMC Trauma Team as a local “Hero”.

Continue to do what you do best – provide high quality, compassionate, innovative healthcare to all who we serve – and together, we will get through these challenging times.