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January 27, 2022

Guest Column | Successes Lead to Bright Future for Rural Health Care

As we gather during the holidays and bid farewell to another year under the shadow of the pandemic, I wanted to shine a light on all the good I see around me every day.

As I close out my second year as Mee Memorial Healthcare System’s CEO, I am in awe at the tremendous skill, dedication and compassion of our staff, physicians, volunteers and learners. They take pride in providing excellent care, and it shows each and every day. Since March of 2020, our amazing team members have worked tirelessly (and with great risk) to ensure proper and timely care during the pandemic.

This year they helped lead the way in a daunting vaccination drive and helped make a dramatic difference in the quality of life for so many. From providing free physicals to local student-athletes to conducting education outreach in schools, we have kept our heads and hearts focused on our amazing rural community.

In 2021 we instituted a new virtual front door program, providing the ability to have an ER visit online. The new system, which began in May, integrates virtual and physical emergency care to allow Mee Memorial to better meet increasing demands of the Covid-19 pandemic by treating patients from the safety of their home.

In an effort to communicate more clearly and efficiently with the community, we also launched a new website, allowing greater ease of use and increased efficiency.

Our biggest accomplishment, however, involved the sheer dedication and belief in our cause shown by an amazing team of healthcare professionals who showed great patient-centered teamwork. It was no easy task managing both the safety of our employees and the wellbeing of our valued community. But we did it, with dedication and grace. And we’re all stronger because of it.

In a year with a huge focus on our community’s most vulnerable, the Mee Memorial Skilled Nursing Facility retained its 5-Star rating from Medicare — providing the highest level of medical, nursing and rehabilitative care. The facility represents a unique, holistic approach to caring for those we can no longer care for at home.

The 48-bed facility is located one level above the hospital, ensuring valuable resources, including dieticians, social workers, and a wide range of caregivers who can and do check in every day. What’s more, the facility provides culturally sensitive care and ensures Spanish speaking residents feel at home.

While the pandemic will be remembered for its extraordinary challenges, we should all celebrate successes that foretell a bright future for rural health care.

Behind the scenes is the incredible team at the Mee Memorial Healthcare System Foundation (MMHF), whose tireless fundraising and organizational efforts help support the programs and services of the hospital. The nonprofit operates independently, in the sense that they have their own focus and goals, but its main purpose is to aid our efforts to provide quality healthcare in this and future generations.

Due to cuts in funding on both state and federal levels over the years, many hospitals have struggled to secure financial support, and turn to their foundations for assistance. MMHF works collaboratively with the Service League, volunteers and hospital staff on many events and opportunities to give back.

The foundation is always looking for volunteers and new board members, people who are enthusiastic about our small rural hospital that is so integral to the health in our community.

Supporting the foundation through the Memorial Rose Garden is an amazing opportunity to make a forever statement while giving back. If you have never seen this public garden on the hospital grounds, make a point to stop by and marvel at the beauty and hope in full bloom.

You can support the foundation while memorializing someone or something close to your heart by purchasing a “forever rose,” a memorial brick or bench for someone you love.

You can also make a donation through Monterey County Gives! — the annual holiday fundraising platform at montereycountygives.com. Each dollar donated through Dec. 31 will be boosted by 15% by MCG.

I am hopeful for a return to a “new normal” and excited about the future of Mee Memorial Healthcare System. While I feel we are turning the corner, there may be a few bumps along the way. The road to recovery will not happen overnight.

But as we go through that journey we will continue to improve our facilities, bring the newest in medical technology to this community, and keep our team committed to the health and well-being of anyone who needs our care.

I hope that as you celebrate the holidays with friends and family, you can look back on the year with a deep breath and a sense of accomplishment — while looking forward with excitement and hope. Happy holidays to you and yours!

Rena Salamacha
CEO, Mee Memorial Healthcare System
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