How UnityPoint and the community can work together

In its editorial the T-R calls for public forum and cooperation between community members and UnityPoint Health. That is a valid and valuable position. UnityPoint is apparently hiring a consultant to figure out their lack of patients. Perhaps this writer can add a perspective to that conundrum.

When MMSC was going through dire financial issues, the community began to lose faith in the hospital’s ability to provide excellent care. As time progressed through a failed merger, and the inevitable rumor mill, people began to seek medical care elsewhere. Once that happened, the confidence in new providers grew as confidence in the local hospital continued to wane. When a person makes a new and confident connection with a provider, that is hard to break, even when new management begins. This family indeed sought medical care and surgery out of town when a health emergency arose.

Another issue concerns the UnityPoint promotion. In Grundy Center, the hospital retained its local identity when UnityPoint came in by keeping its name: Grundy County Memorial Hospital/UnityPoint Health. In Marshalltown, the UnityPoint name and logo are everywhere. Perhaps if this hospital had retained its own identity along with UnityPoint there would be a different response: oh, yes, it’s still our local hospital, but with new management and funding (possibly Central Iowa Healthcare/UnityPoint Health).

Realizing that cost efficiency is a major concern, still the closing of the cath lab and the ICU have been received poorly by many in the community. Amenities such as the coffee bar at the southside are certainly not necessary or expected as a business works to regain financial health.

As a patient three times now in the hospital here, the experiences have been vastly different. The first had me vowing never to return, save for the excellent care of the RNs who cared for me. Both the hospitalist and the registered nurse practitioner who saw me discredited my own local physician and ordered unnecessary tests. In hindsight, I should have declined the testing — that one’s on me. The hospital did take my evaluation seriously and contacted me by letter twice regarding that experience. Another visit to the ER revealed serious issues with housekeeping and at one point I was left standing in the hall with no direction or attention.

However, recently I was with a friend in the ER where the care and concern given were timely and compassionate. A familiar physician was on duty and that gave everyone a great deal of confidence. And the wound care and out-patient surgical center have set outstanding records in their care of and service to patients.

UnityPoint, be out in the community. Talk to people, ask questions, give straight-forward answers. When hiring staff, be certain not only of their medical excellence, but also of their compassion for the people they will encounter. Thank you for taking my evaluation seriously! And please continue to do so. And consider changing the hospital’s name to give back some community ownership.

Marshalltown, (and I speak to myself as well!) let’s step up to the challenge. Choose our local facility whenever possible. Give honest feedback to the hospital so they can make positive changes that will help gain more confidence in their services.

After all, we are MARSHALLTOWN STRONG!