Lack of understanding on CAHs is frustrating

I am not ordinarily inclined to respond to letters to the editor but I feel compelled to respond to Juanita Warren’s letter in the June 30 issue.

Now I could take exception to a number of things in that letter (actually almost every single sentence), but one thing captured my attention. It was the quote of CEO Hoppie Jones of Hood Memorial Hospital (HMH), “Our job is to stabilize patients and send them out.”

When I read that, I thought, “Hood Memorial Hospital? Where the hell is that and what the hell does it have to do with Sublette County?”

It bothered me so much that I had to look it up. Hood Memorial Hospital is a CAH (critical access hospital) in Amite, La. – a town of 4,000 souls on I-55 halfway between New Orleans and Jackson, Miss. It has 25 beds, deployable as either acute care or swing beds. It offers a number of wonderful services including respiratory therapy, speech therapy, IV therapy (including chemotherapy), a dedicated wound care clinic, hospice care, AND dialysis! Oh, that Sublette County had such a wonderful hospital! I spoke with Alicia Chatelain, the human resources director of HMH, and they would love to show us what they are, what they offer, and what they can do, which is a lot more than “stabilize patients and send them out.”

By the way, concerning that quote, Chatelain says “… that quote came from a time of our dormancy. We are now a thriving health care facility. During the time of that quote, our average daily census was a mediocre three and now we are averaging 19!” The irony is, Ms. Warren, that obtaining CAH status was the critical change that allowed this fine little hospital to survive and thrive.

In the year that I have the pleasure of being in the middle of Sublette County’s CAH imbroglio, I have been constantly frustrated by the lack of understanding of what the CAHs of Wyoming can do and are doing every day.

So here’s my offer to you, Juanita Warren. Let us go, you (or any designated representative of yours, if you are unable to make the trip) and I and a disinterested third party, to Amite, La., and see this Hood Memorial Hospital. We will take a tour with the charming Ms. Chatelain. We will speak with the staff and patients, and speak with the citizens of Amite, La. We can see what they think about the utility and value of their CAH. It’ll be fun and I bet it opens your eyes to the value of critical access hospitals!


Brendan Fitzsimmons, M.D.


More In Opinion