I Beg To Differ: Life in the AARP lane



St Charles Medical Center may be a small hospital to AARP (226 beds) but it is the largest hospital in central Oregon. It is also a level 2 trauma center; in fact, it is the only level 2 trauma center in eastern Oregon.

The St Charles Health Care system also owns and manages the hospitals in Redmond, Madras, and Prineville.

In my opinion, the St Charles Health Care system delivers a level of care that meets or exceeds the level of care provided by Portland area hospitals.

Do the hospitals and clinics in the rest of eastern Oregon send their patients that need more care to Portland and Salem hospitals? Some might, but the articles I’ve read say that St Anthony’s (Pendleton, Oregon), Wallowa Memorial Hospital (Enterprise, Oregon), Grande Ronde Hospital (La Grande, Oregon), Blue Mountain Hospital (John Day, Oregon), Mid-Columbia Medical Center (The Dalles, Oregon), St Alphpnsus Medical Center (Baker City, Oregon), Harney District Hospital (Burns, Oregon), and Sky Lakes Medical Center (Klamath Falls, Oregon) and other medical facilities in eastern Oregon send their patients to St Charles Medical Center


As stated on the page I linked to directly above this paragraph, St Charles Medical Center serves over 200,000 people in a 33,000-square-mile area (greater than the size of Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware, New Hampshire, and Hawaii combined).

I was born at the original St Charles Hospital; I’ve been treated at the emergency room for various injuries and other medical emergencies several times over the years and I was admitted to the hospital proper with pulmonary emboli almost 1 1/2 years ago (August 8 2010).

I was treated at Kaiser and Providence when I lived in Portland; it took months for Kaiser to figure out and treat my menstrual periods that would not stop (I’d had the same problem in Bend, and it took my doctor here ONE VISIT!) and my gallbladder surgery at Providence was delayed for FIVE HOURS due to a snowstorm. At least in central Oregon, a snowstorm is not a major event that prevents surgery from being performed! It took 2 emergency room visits, an ultrasound, and numerous doctor visits to even get the gallbladder issue diagnosed; during the time they were IMO dicking around I had 4 major gallbladder attacks and several minor attacks.

St Charles Medical Center is also affiliated with Air Life and they have their own heliport for critical care transportation.

Patients receive award winning care at the hospital itself, the Cancer Center, the Heart Center, NOW Care (immediate care for orthopedic and neurological care), the Emergency Room, and various clinics under the St Charles Health Care System umbrella

If you don’t need hospital care there are numerous clinics throughout the area (including but not limited to):

1) Mosaic Medical http://www.mosaicmedical.org/ (in Bend and Prineville)

2) Bend Memorial Clinic http://www.bendmemorialclinic.com/Home.aspx (numerous clinics throughout the central Oregon area)

You can find a complete list of medical clinics here: http://www.medicalclinics.in/oregon/bend-clinics.html

I was admitted to St Charles Medical Center in August 2010 for pulmonary emboli. I was in the emergency room for 5 hours and in the hospital; I had no health insurance and no money. The St Charles Foundation waived my entire bill, which was over twelve thousand dollars ($12,000.00). I doubt that the (mostly) for-profit hospitals in the Portland/Salem area would have done so.

Over the years, my father had gallbladder surgery, back surgery, double bypass surgery, and carotid artery surgery–all at St Charles Medical Center. There was never any discussion of going to a hospital in the Portland/Salem area because he KNEW that the level of care right here in Bend Oregon meets and/or exceeds the level of care in the Willamette Valley.

If you need more care than St Charles Medical Center can provide you (unlikely IMHO!) Air Life and short flights from the Redmond airport to Portland make AARP’s comments about transportation issues a non-issue.

A long drive–3 hours in the summer, often up to 5 hours in the winter–so yes it’s a long drive when you are having critical medical issues.

But if you are having critical medical issues that require treatment in the Willamette Valley, you would be taking Air Life or an air ambulance, NOT driving.

I am NOT saying that St Charles Medical Center is the be-all-and-end-all of all hospitals or that St Charles Health Care System is the end-all-and-be-all of health provider networks. I am just saying that AARP should have done some research on the hospital and other medical services before maligning it.

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