There are so many rumors circulating around Cambria regarding the Healthcare District and the health care needs of the community, I’m not sure they can all be answered in one Viewpoint, but there are three that must be addressed.
Because of our demographic of retired people, and the influx of vehicles to the Castle, our ambulance service is vital. It serves both the traveling public as well as injuries or illnesses of local residents. Any rumor that this is an attempt to “get rid of the ambulance” is just downright false. Thus, signs that imply that we must keep our ambulance local and our health care local are incorrect. There is no attempt to privatize the ambulance service, and our health care is not local now. Community Health Centers (CHC) is based in Nipomo.
Another false rumor is that people’s taxes will go up if Tenet or Dignity Health have facilities in Cambria. What a crock! We have assured them that if they open facilities in Cambria, they are on their own. The Healthcare District simply cannot help them financially. The district can invite them politely to come here, but that is all!
The population of the entire district is close to 7,500 to 8,000 people, with the majority, about 6,000, living in the community of Cambria. This district also includes the more than a 1 million visitors to Hearst Castle most years. There will be plenty of “business” for all three agencies!
The Healthcare District board authorized the Health Professionals Committee to submit a professionally compiled survey to the community of Cambria, San Simeon and rural areas. There was a 16 percent response (a 10 percent response is considered good), with more than 85 percent of the respondents stating that they wanted more health care services in Cambria. The survey was available in Spanish, as well.
Although contact had been made to Dignity Health privately regarding the provision of more health care in Cambria, the Healthcare District correctly contacted CHC, Dignity Health and Tenet Corporation. CHC did not respond, but both Dignity Health and Tenet were pleased, and have indicated an interest in providing more health care here.
What some of us are trying to accomplish is the provision of health care services in the gap between what CHC can provide and the need for emergency transport by our excellent ambulance service. We would like to have a digital X-ray for people here; a full-service laboratory; 24/7 medical coverage; and, frankly, anything else that CHC, Dignity Health and/or Tenet could or would provide.
The provision of health care services between what CHC has to offer, and what the ambulance can provide will be to the benefit of all of the residents of the North Coast.
Shirley Bianchi, a former San Luis Obispo County supervisor and planning commissioner, is a candidate for a seat on the CCHD board.