Editor's Note: The following letter, dated Jan. 24, was sent to CEO Craig Castro, Community Medical Centers, Inc., from Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce President Todd Miller and 14 chamber board members:
The community of Oakhurst has become very aware of changes you have made to the only Urgent Care location in the mountains. This one location serves the residents of Oakhurst, Coarsegold, Fish Camp, Ahwahnee, North Fork and Bass Lake. It also is the only facility available to the 1.2 million tourists that pass through our town each year on their way to Yosemite National Park. This facility is also the only emergency care facility between our mountain communities and Fresno.
The recent cutback in hours, the reduction in staff and the closure on Wednesdays is endangering the lives of our citizens and has alarmed many of our residents. We are aware that resources are scarce and there is great uncertainty due to the Affordable Care Act. However, this facility has saved lives and is of vital interest to our community.
As the board of directors of the Chamber of Commerce, we are also very concerned about the effect that these reductions, or further reductions, will have on the financial vitality of our community. One of the major concerns of people moving into the mountains is the availability of healthcare. The loss or reduction of services seriously impacts the economic stability of our community, as well as the welfare of all residents and visitors.
With these issues in mind, we want to rally the community to help keep this facility open and the possibility of expanding services to the community. We have discussed various possible options, both short-term and long-term, to address this situation:
1. Create a membership program for emergency care similar to the program now used by Sierra Ambulance;
2. Attempt to negotiate an agreement with Community, Kaiser, VA and other medical providers with offices in the area to help staff the facility;
3. Have Community Hospitals use hospital residents to help staff the facility giving them rural healthcare exposure;
4. Creating a special district to help fund an Emergency Care Facility.
There are rumors circulating that you are selling the facility, closing the facility or that you are turning it into a non-emergency clinic.
As representatives for our business community and as a voice for all of our citizens, we would like to meet with you as CEO, and your entire Board of Trustees, to discuss the future of emergency care in our community. We would like to include Community Centers as a partner to explore solutions to this pressing issue.
Please contact us so that we can meet at your earliest convenience.