Plumas News

Plumas County News

This season’s flu underscores the need for local healthcare

Hospital leaders should be commended for their efforts to keep the doors open

Clinic visits and school absences have spiked in Plumas County since New Year’s, mirroring what’s happening across the country as the flu hits particularly hard in 2018.

By now, probably everyone knows that this year’s flu shot is only 30 percent effective, up from the 10 percent that was initially reported by the Centers for Disease Control. Still, healthcare professionals here and nationally are encouraging those who haven’t received the flu shot yet, to do so. There’s still a 30 percent chance it will protect you, and there’s popular opinion that if you do get the flu, the symptoms won’t be as severe.

For some, this year’s flu has drawn parallels to the flu that swept the world 100 years ago, killing millions. But medical advances and knowledge about how the flu spreads, makes a repeat highly unlikely. To stop the spread, healthcare professionals encourage everyone to wash their hands thoroughly and often, and to stay home if they are experiencing flu symptoms. It’s great advice, and while the former is relatively easy to implement, the second is much more difficult.

This newspaper is a prime example. If Feather Publishing staff had stayed home for the duration of their symptoms, there would have been no newspaper for a couple of weeks. The cold and flu bugs have been pretty ruthless this year. Several workplaces have been equally impacted, as have area schools where absence rates have roughly doubled.

While we always appreciate the fact that we have quality local healthcare, it’s times like these that underscore the significance of not having to travel to find relief. Being sick is a miserable enough experience, without compounding it by driving an hour or more to a doctor’s office. All of our communities have access to healthcare, and it’s not something that we should take for granted.

Across the nation, rural hospitals are closing — the costs of providing care are escalating, while the reimbursements from the government and private insurance don’t keep pace. Eastern Plumas and Seneca healthcare districts offer skilled nursing beds, which help to stabilize their funding. Plumas District Hospital would like to follow suit, but in the meantime is emphasizing its transitional care beds. Transitional beds provide care for patients who are being released from acute care hospitalization, but are not ready to go home. Plumas District also participates in intergovernmental transfers, which are designed to help reimburse hospitals for the losses they experience under such programs as MediCal. But it’s not easy. Significant dollar matches are required to even participate in the funding opportunities.

Running a healthcare district has become so much more than providing exam rooms and doctors — much more than treating patients and issuing a bill. Our healthcare leaders must become wizards of finance, and think outside of the traditional box when it comes to the bottom line. We want to take the time this flu season to recognize everything our local hospital leaders do to protect our health and all that they do to keep their doors open.