Rena Salamacha
Rena Salamacha, CEO, Mee Memorial Healthcare System

Providing quality healthcare in the modern world requires effective teamwork — a strategy that can immediately and positively affect both patient safety and outcome. Due to the increasingly complex specialization of care, it’s rare to find a lone medical professional able to solely deliver a level of care that satisfies his or her patients.

The evolution in healthcare requires parallel professional development with an extreme focus on a patient-centered team approach. This can only be achieved by placing the patient at the center of care — with doctors, technicians, nurses and more all sharing a wide-based culture of values and principles.

This team-oriented approach reveals itself each day throughout Mee Memorial Healthcare System, where a collective assortment of professionals provide care to our treasured rural community in South County.

We especially celebrate this approach during National Hospital Week, which aims to recognize hospitals, health systems and all the people who work there. Sponsored by the American Hospital Association, the celebration begins May 7 and runs through May 13.

National Hospital Week is held annually during this time to coincide with the May 12 birthday of Florence Nightingale, considered the founder of modern nursing.

Known as “The Lady With the Lamp,” Nightingale — founded modern nursing at the end of the 19th century. Thanks to her strict use of hand-washing and hygiene practices while caring for wounded soldiers in the Crimean War, Nightingale and her helpers reduced the death rate from 42% to 2% — ushering in nursing as we know it today.

This year’s National Hospital Week celebration will center around the hashtag theme #WeAreHealthcare.

At MMHS, we also take this time to highlight all of our incredible nurses during National Nurses Day observed on Saturday, May 6.

Back in 1953, Dorothy Sutherland of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare sent a proposal to then President Dwight Eisenhower to create an official day to honor nurses.

Amazingly, it took 20 years before Pres. Richard Nixon finally acknowledged the nursing profession by setting aside a day in February. In 1978, New Jersey’s governor Brendon Byrne declared May 6 as National Nurses Day. In 1981, the American Nurses Association helped make it official and extend the celebration a full week.

It’s an annual, worldwide round of applause for all the selfless souls who do so much for others. The week provides the entire world an opportunity to thank nurses within the healthcare industry for the work they do under often-stressful circumstances.

In South Monterey County you certainly know these nurses. If you haven’t been a patient, you’ve seen them at the grocery store or the local library or at a downtown coffeeshop. They really are the visible strength within our rural community’s fabric.

If you have a nurse in your family, or know a nurse that has impacted your life, take the time to send them a dose of gratitude. It would mean the world to them.

This gratitude is especially important in a close-knit, rural community. Remember, an estimated 57 million people — nearly 1 in 5 Americans — live in rural communities throughout the U.S. Many of these communities, just like our own, face a variety of barriers that affect their overall physical, social and mental health status.

According to the National Rural Health Association, the following statistics help define healthcare challenges in rural areas:

  • Although 25% of Americans live in rural areas, only 10% of physicians practice in them.
  • Rural residents face greater problems with medical transportation than residents living in urban areas.
  • Approximately 54% of rural Americans lack access to high-speed internet. This can make it more difficult for them to access their health information from home.
  • Rural communities have higher unemployment rates and more uninsured residents, which can result in limited access to healthcare.
  • Rates of diabetes and coronary heart disease are higher in rural areas than urban areas.

Despite these statistics, Mee Memorial Hospital stands strong within its mission to provide culturally sensitive and patient-centered healthcare, delivered with the highest quality of service. Sixty years after our founding we are still the only hospital within almost 50 miles of the city, serving an area of several thousand square miles.

As a nonprofit facility, this isn’t always easy. But through the support of our community, our dedicated volunteers, and our talented staff of professionals, we work with patients to promote health and well-being, helping our rural community to thrive.

We try each day to focus on a set of defined values. Among them are the following: “a dedication to Mee Memorial, our patients, and the community”; and “a team approach that involves the patient.”

And that is certainly worth celebrating!

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CEO, Mee Memorial Healthcare System


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