By: Tahoe Forest Hospital District President and CEO, Harry Weis
Decades ago, Truckee and surrounding communities had been struggling for years without a local hospital. After our community voted in 1949 to establish its own local hospital, long-term resident and community leader Dick Joseph donated the land for what is known today as Tahoe Forest Hospital District.
Tahoe Forest Hospital serves over 50,000 community patients. As demand for our services grow, our local hospital must be positioned to meet them. In the last six years alone, our District has had an increase of 64,000 patient visits -- over a 50% increase -- with additional increases expected in the coming year.
Today, the Town of Truckee is refusing the long-standing partnership with the Hospital by excluding the Hospital District from the Town’s future planning, most recently by excluding the Hospital’s from its General Plan update. Deliberately omitting the Hospital affects our ability to fully support patients, their families and caregivers – and jeopardizes the quality of the compassionate care and support our Hospital provides. The General Plan document that was discussed on Tuesday night by the Town Council does not achieve our shared objectives for quality care and should be rejected, as recommended by the Planning Commission and the dozens of residents that spoke against it.
On Tuesday, scores of residents—including our own medical staff and patients -- attended the Town’s Council meeting to demand that the Town Council accept its own Planning Commission recommendation not to approve the General Plan because several stakeholders – including our Hospital – were expressly excluded. The Town Council will meet again on Thursday evening to make a decision on the General Plan and we urge them to reject it.
The Hospital District’s proposed vision for the near-term is a modest augmentation of our medical campus designed specifically to maintain Truckee’s small-town character, be environmentally responsible, increase local open space, reduce traffic, and increase access for local healthcare needs. Centralized healthcare services, allows us to provide better access to healthcare, reduce traffic and car trips on busy local streets, reduce sprawl and allow local healthcare to be effective and efficient.
Why is the Town so adamant in failing to include our local hospital in its land use planning, even when there is robust community support and input?
The Town of Truckee has a responsibility to be an effective, collaborative partner with Tahoe Forest Healthcare District to improve accessibility for disabled persons, seniors, and their caregivers and families; streamline emergency room access; and maintain the high standards of care and support our Hospital prides itself on. Excluding our vision and recommendations for how to achieve that in this General Plan update is unacceptable and jeopardizes our shared goals.
behalf of the Hospital District doctors, nurses, staff, patients and their families and caregivers we ask that the Town of Truckee reconsider the years of partnership that they are severing and the healthcare needs of our disabled, seniors and community. The Town should be working as a full partner with the Hospital to maintain and enhance the excellent care we provide the community—not the opposite.
Harry Weis has been at the forefront of providing community-based healthcare leadership since 1977 and was appointed President & CEO of Tahoe Forest Hospital District since 2015.