“Every person must have a place, must be here for a special reason, or no one has a place, or no one has a special reason for being. Either everybody counts or nobody counts.”
I’ve been thinking about this quote for quite a while now. I think about it when heated discussions arise between Democrats and Republicans, Christians and Muslims, Whites and Latinos, the “haves” and the “have nots.” Our culture seems so intolerant and divided.
In contrast, I’ve been thinking about how Memorial Hospital addresses the needs of all individuals in our community. Everyone matters. As a nonprofit community hospital, Memorial is committed to reaching the underserved in our region. Children’s Village is the only comprehensive collaborative for coordinated care in the Pacific Northwest for children with disabilities and special healthcare needs, and the only provider of autism diagnostic services in central Washington. It serves children from 15 counties, and 85% of these children live in poverty and rely on Medicaid. Nurse Family Partnership serves high risk, pregnant, first-time mothers (many who are teens) and stays with these women until their child is two years of age. Of the patients that Memorial Hospital serves, 70% rely on Medicaid or Medicare, which means that Memorial provides more than $20 million in charity care to our community each year. North Star Lodge Cancer Center is the only premier, award winning treatment facility of its kind in the Pacific Northwest, and offers all types of medical, radiation and chemotherapy services all located under one roof. Cottage in the Meadow Hospice Care Center, which just opened in September 2012, is the only free-standing hospice facility in central Washington to address end-of-life care for the terminally ill.
Community outreach is the cornerstone of Memorial’s philosophy and priorities. Yakima County has the highest poverty rate in the state at 24%, and Memorial provides a multitude of classes and programs focused on preventative health and education that are designed to meet the needs of our community. Classes on many diseases and medical challenges include diabetes, cancer, cardiac care, chronic disease self-management, childbirth education, childhood obesity and women’s health. Many of these courses and events are free of cost to participants, and all services are offered in English and Spanish to address the unique needs of our county’s significant Hispanic population. Many recent immigrants are separated culturally, linguistically and geographically which creates enormous barriers to healthcare. This population is further isolated due to low literacy levels and little knowledge of healthcare, and tends to have higher rates of chronic illness. We realize the importance of reaching this underserved part of our community. The health of a community is directly related to the health of the individuals in that community. Memorial’s outreach programs provide more than $5.5 million each year in benefits to our community.