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home : opinions : columns November 24, 2015

1/3/2013 5:00:00 PM
TIMES EDITORIAL: Palo Verde Hospital needs to be privatized

Here we go again. Lawsuits are flying and Palo Verde Hospital (PVH) is at the center of the town's attention. That's not a good thing.

In October of 2012 the Healthcare District Board sued its primary surgeon of the past 12 years, Dr. Hossain Sahlolbei, charging him with fraud and a variety of other things.

In November, the Medical Executive Committee (MEC) sought a restraining order to stop the board from contracting out surgical services and this past week Sahlolbei sued the hospital in federal court accusing it of dragging his reputation through the mud because he stood up for patient care.

A little more than four years ago the MEC staked its claim on the front page of the Times by suing the hospital for bypassing its recommendation and granting privileges to an anesthesiologist who already had privileges at JFK Hospital in Indio and Eisenhower in Rancho Mirage.

Despite the anesthesiologist's credentials, the MEC deemed him unfit to join Blythe's local medical staff, and it denied him privileges at PVH. The committee dropped the suit when voters elected a board it endorsed and the anesthesiologist resigned.

Four years before that, in June 2002, after having his privileges at the hospital rescinded, Sahlolbei sued the hospital managers at the time, Province Health Care, and the hospital's Board members and CEO.

In 2005, parties reached a private settlement.

In 2006, voters elected a new board the medical staff endorsed and it brought on a new management team on Jan. 1, 2007.

In the past 10 years, so many lawsuits have flown back and forth between the hospital and its medical staff, that we long lost count.

And while the boards and management have changed drastically through the years, the medical staff has remained the same. That should be a lesson to everyone.

All these suits that purport to seek better patient care are actually blocking better patient care.

The recent "F" grade in the Leapfrog survey was a most telling assessment of medical care at Palo Verde Hospital. Medical staff supporters originally touted survey results as justification for this past November's election results, but now the same crowd is calling the survey flawed after it became apparent that patient care, as the lawsuits and responses the medical staff and its members have filed, assert that it is the medical staff's responsibility.

It's unfortunate that "professionals" with so many years of education and experience cannot settle their differences without lawyers and judges. Its even more unfortunate that Palo Verde Hospital, the only hospital within 45 miles of Blythe, is a place where locals fear to go.

The people of this community have become pawns in a game of politics and power grabs, and the state of healthcare in this community has reached all-time lows.

Elections have failed to provide results that inspire confidence among the local population that needs medical service. It's obvious the people in charge need to take a new direction, one that doesn't involve boards and personalities.

The current Healthcare District Board needs to seek out a private buyer for the hospital and take it out of the public's hands. It's an obvious cash cow, because we've seen so many fights to take control of it. Finding a buyer shouldn't be much of a problem.

To continue on the current path means only more strife and lawsuits filling the front page of the newspaper, bringing discredit and ridicule to our community.

With the start of the new year, it's time to eliminate the drama that already has consumed too much of our time and tax dollars.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2013
Article comment by: Bob Arp

My current hometown's hospital sold out a few years ago to a for profit hospital system. A new facility but now higher costs and concerns over the quality of care. Check out 60 Minutes recent feature on Carlisle Regional hospital and see if this is what you are bargaining for. Remember when selling your water rights to Metropolitan Water District sounded like a good idea too.

Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Article comment by: To Blythe's Entertainer

Just close it and put it out of its misery.

Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Article comment by: Blythe's Entertainer U2canBeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Palo Verde Hospital got an, "F-GRADE" (YEAH OKAY!!!!) In full Disclosure and in the interst of the TRUTH, the Palo Verde Hospital, conveniently located in beautiful and trendy Blythe, California, was rated THIRD WORST Hospital in the UNITED STATES of AMERICA!!!! That should have been the HEADLINE!!!! Privatize the Palo Verde Hospital? What planet do you live on? Has anyone paid any attention to the demographics in our town? Privatize-----> SMH & LOL

Posted: Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Article comment by: Tell the News as it comes

@ concerned citizen
and the band wagon that follows the new board. The news will change when there is new goood news to report. I am sure your band does not want a new hospital because they would not let you and your band play your same old song.

Posted: Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Article comment by: @ @ concerned citizen

Its to late. Trying to get along with the MEC has been fruitless, just look at its history.
I new hospital without the old drama is what Blythe needs.

Posted: Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Article comment by: @ concerned citizen

You tell everyone to get real then go on talking about getting Kaiser Permanente to build a hospital in Blythe. A new hospital would cost close to 50 million dollars to build. What company in their right mind would want to come to Blythe if they read our local paper and saw all the articles in it about the "failings" of our community? It would be one thing if we were a booming town that had lots of really good things going for it. Unfortunately that is not the case. If you really want to get real then we need to start discussing how to turn around what we have and work with what we have instead of having a hospital that is in constant turmoil. I know, get rid of Dr. Saholobei is the answer many of you have but all that this fight has accomplished so far is a hospital in greater turmoil and even poorer financially. By the times all these lawsuits are done we will probably spend enough money to have bought a new X ray machine. So quit feeding into wishful thinking that has no chance in hell of happening and lets all band together as a community to get the hospital on a fully sustainable path.

Posted: Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Article comment by: @ Just me the editor

who will invest 50 million dollars for a new hospital only to be trashed and finacially taken hostage by the local newspaper negative false articles? show me one willing corporation.

Posted: Monday, January 7, 2013
Article comment by: just me

I as well as others is in favor of a new hospital.Such a blessing that would be.

Posted: Monday, January 7, 2013
Article comment by: ben llamas

Site Administrator's note:Please keep comments succinct; 300 words or less is optimal. Comments that are excessively verbose, rambling or too long for reasonable review may not be posted.

Posted: Sunday, January 6, 2013
Article comment by: Aj McKay

@concerned citizen no disrespect but you mention not to comment unless something REAL and not the sarcasm. I know I do not know you but if you believe what you say so strongly, then why not make yourself public and help make a positive change in any way you can? Thats kind of controdictive to share information (true or not) then stay anonymous. Some effort is better than none. Talking but with no action is a big problem in the community at all levels. Too many statements and opinions by people who sit back and watch. Never even going to a public meeting or never have. Let us be real honest. Nobody posting on hear is helping other than verbally fighting because of what others write. There is no solution other than getting involved. Sitting back and just giving opinions is worthless. Just saying.......

Posted: Sunday, January 6, 2013
Article comment by: Concerned Neighbor

I think I will call BS CCPOA and tell them they cannot force me to use the third worst hospital!! I want a new hospital and I want a good doctor! Any suggestions for the best doctor here? I give up!

Posted: Sunday, January 6, 2013
Article comment by: @ You have no Memory at all

It is obvious you did not read my post.
I said to have Kaiser build a hospital not but PVH. Then PVH would Fold!
Second you are incorrect in your assumption that PVHD can not sell the Hospital. It can but in order to sell more then 10% of its assets it has to have an election and the voters have to approve.

Posted: Saturday, January 5, 2013
Article comment by: Blythe Karma

Anyone have Kaiser Healthcare phone number.
They should just build a new hospital as Palo Verde Hospital could not compete, it would fold and that would solve the real problems. I would love to see some of the Doc's try and get on at Kaiser. LOL

Posted: Saturday, January 5, 2013
Article comment by: Get to the source

I second your brilliant motion, "Concerned Citizen", and the sooner the better. Kaiser know how to work around the petty stuff. And they have history of success.

Posted: Saturday, January 5, 2013
Article comment by: Right On!

I couldnít agree more with PVVT and Concerned Citizen! I appreciated the article by PVVT because in all honesty Iím lost with all the bickering, power plays, backstabbing, and lawsuits. Then to tie it all together in a nice little bow was what Concerned Citizen added. There is absolutely nothing I could add to what either said, and I certainly couldnít agree more. Now letís all pray it comes to pass otherwise we are screwed.

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