Pioneers Hospital holds forum to help improve Valley’s healthcare

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Larry Lewis, CEO of Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District, talks with those attending the Calexico Town Hall Thursday night in the Calexico Town Hall Chambers.

CALEXICO – Following two town hall meetings held in Brawley and Imperial, Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District (PMHD) held its last public meeting Thursday, May 18 in Calexico’s Town Hall Chambers to hear residents’ concerns and answer questions in order to improve healthcare in the Valley.

Several of the hospital’s leaders and employees attended the meeting to answer questions and provide information about their services in order for the public to understand more about the programs provided by PMHD.

Larry Lewis, CEO of PMHD, said he hoped to collect ideas and criticism from the community to be able to provide better services for Calexico residents who make the extra trip for an appointment at Pioneers Memorial Hospital.

“We want to make sure that we’re listening to ideas Imperial Valley residents and the local community have, and see what their needs are,” said Lewis.

“We don’t want to go our own way and do something that isn’t needed. It’s also about information, too. There’s different information we want to get out there so people can start caring for themselves differently and learn more,” Lewis said.

Lewis summarized many of the hospital’s services and new projects that are in progress like antibiotic management in patients, the transition of care program, and the expansion of new beds. As of now, the hospital has 107 patient beds and increased the emergency center to 32 beds — as long as it can meet earthquake regulations and patient intake availability.

As the Valley has experienced a shortage of physicians, PMHD employed 13 physicians in the last three years and plans to recruit seven more the next two years, according to Lewis. On women’s healthcare, he said PMH has five obstetrician/gynecologists and added two midwives this year.

From the public’s side, Calexico residents expressed their concerns about the services the hospital provides for senior citizens, transportation services, ambulance accessibility to PMH, and the shortage of parking spaces, which PMHD is planning to expand.

Barbara Deol, director of Calexico Health Center Primary and Urgent Care of PMHD, told attendees the importance of follow-up care for patients after being discharged. Deol explained the transition of care program offered by the hospital.

After a patient leaves, in the first 24-48 hours, a registered nurse will visit the patient’s home and help them with medication and discharge instructions, she said. This process improves the patient’s understanding of the hospital’s resources and the reason they went to the hospital. Also, the program monitors patients with administering long term medications, she said.

Lewis and the PMH staff took notes of the public’s concerns and answered every question as the conversations advanced.

“If we empower patients to learn how to take care of themselves, they have more control over their health, over their needs and control over their body and future,” said Margaret Ferguson, an employee of the PMH transition care program.