SVDH Candidates share views on outside care
With the Tulare County general election less than a month away, Sierra View Local Health Care District candidates — incumbents Martha A. Flores, L. Brent Gill and Richard Hatfield, and challengers Mark Fazzone, Dr. Gaurang Pandya, Dr. Rakesh Jindal and Dr. Jasvir Sidhu — are all vying for one of three available seats.
Each candidate was asked if the hospital should invest in rural health clinics, urgent care centers or in a Da Vinci surgery system — keeping their response to an approximate 40 words.
When it comes to urgent care centers and rural clinics, Jindal said he believes an urgent care center should be started immediately in order to provide affordable care for less serious cases while leaving the emergency room available for true emergencies. He also said he believes the hospital district should form a rural clinic, if Porterville still qualifies for one, but when it comes to robotic surgery, it’s not necessary.
Jindal called the Da Vinci robotic system “relatively useless and expensive,” and said the financial resources could be better utilized elsewhere.
“Anything which enhances the delivery of healthcare, both inside and outside the hospital, should be considered — and always tempered by fiscal responsibility,” Gill said.
However the emergency department already has triaging, thus imitating an urgent care, and the hospital already operates a free-standing surgery center, he said.
Urgent care centers, stand-alone facilities located near the hospital’s emergency room, is a project to be considered, Hatfield said.
Fazzone agreed by saying that anyone who has had to wait for hours for health services would also agree that more options, such as rural health clinics and urgent care centers, are needed.
“But I am not convinced the hospital needs to take the lead,” Fazzone said. “Rather, we should take a look at partnering with others and seek to attract these services to our community.”
Pandya said Porterville already has excellent private and public clinics.
Flores agreed and said the hospital should work collaborative with the existing rural health clinics in a relationship to attract and service all payer classes of patients.
“There is no need to duplicate services,” she said. “The focus should be on developing the best methods of delivery of service and care.”
For Pandya, that means utilizing Porterville College.
“We are in a designated health care man-power shortage area. The hospital should invest in developing curriculum for training mid level providers such as physician assistants,” Pandya said. “Porterville College already has infrastructure for such a program due to its RN program. We should capitalize on it by adding Physician Assistant curriculum.”
Sidhu said the real question is to identify specific current and future health needs of the community and decide on the best way the hospital, the physicians, or as a collaborative approach between the two, can address the issues in a fiscally-sound manner.