Open-heart agreement long overdue

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The long and presumably exhaustive fight to save Shelby Baptist Medical Center&8217;s open-heart surgery program appears to have ended this past Friday as officials from the hospital and rival, Brookwood Medical Center, signed a letter of intent to end the long running battle.

The agreement dictates that Brookwood will no longer oppose Shelby Baptist&8217;s open-heart program; in turn, Shelby Baptist will no longer oppose Brookwood Medical Center&8217;s $54 million modernization and expansion project.

The agreement is long overdue.

Alabama&8217;s system of determining what services can be provided by particular medical facilities, known as the Certificate of Need Board or CON, would appear to be outdated and in need of repair.

It would seem, at least in a layman&8217;s interpretation, that healthcare needs of a community and the financial viability of same should dictate whether or not a particular facility or service should be offered.

The notion that a population base the size of Shelby County&8217;s would not have access to quality health care like open-heart surgery just isn&8217;t plausible.

This is a large county with lots of people and ample resources; quality health care is something we need and, thankfully, can muster the funds to afford.

Our County Commission, countless municipal bodies and many other groups of influence did what they could to make certain residents in Shelby County continue to have access to the life-saving procedures performed at Shelby Baptist. And, most certainly, Shelby Baptist and its parent company Baptist Health Systems, fought the good fight to make certain they would be able to provide the care needed by those they serve.

Thankfully in the end, the citizens of Shelby County won. But it is a shame that the needs of this community were held in the balance as others determined what we needed, when and where