Another election is here and our sample ballots are out.
Forty candidates from which to choose; 12 statewide and ballot initiatives to evaluate and decide.
But only one of those ballot initiatives requires those of us old enough to vote to act purely in the best interest of the health of those among us too young to vote.
Proposition 4, sandwiched on the ballot between propositions on water infrastructure and property tax transfers, asks California voters to support a bond measure that will provide much needed financial support for the 13 children’s hospitals in California, including our own local treasure, Valley Children’s Hospital.
As the only comprehensive pediatric hospital between Los Angeles and the Bay Area, Valley Children’s is the backbone of pediatric care in Central California. The same is true for every other children’s hospital across the state. California’s children’s hospitals have a combined total of 2 million visits by young people each year, many among the sickest, poorest and most in need of the specialized care only found in our hospitals.
Valley Children’s is one of the busiest such hospitals in California and is vital to the health and well-being of children in Central California. Last year, we had 12,371 inpatient hospital stays, saw nearly 120,000 kids in our emergency department, and our 650 physicians cared for kids from Kern County to Sacramento. For the past three years, U.S. News and World Report has ranked Valley Children’s as one of the best hospitals for pediatric care in the country. Valley Children’s is home to the only regional Level IV neonatal intensive vare unit in Central California and offers the region’s only designated pediatric trauma center.
Ask any parent: Kids are small, but caring for them is expensive. That is also true of children’s hospitals. Providing specialized, life-saving medical care for our region’s sickest and most seriously injured children requires continuous investment in advanced technologies and equipment, training, research and infrastructure.
Kids also grow, just like the population of our region. As the demands for specialty pediatric care increase, the ability of our children’s hospitals to respond to those changing needs — for today’s kids and the next generation of kids — becomes increasingly important.
Valley Children’s has been privileged to care for Valley families and their children for nearly 70 years. It is not unusual for us to have cared for three and sometimes four generations of families here and across our healthcare network. Everyone knows someone who has relied on Valley Children’s for the care of their kids. Our ability to care for the future generations of Valley families will require financial investment beyond what we can generate through our own operations and our incredibly generous donors.
That’s where Proposition 4 comes in. And that’s where you come in.
Proposition 4 will provide Valley Children’s, and its peer hospitals throughout California, the assistance needed to ensure our state’s kids continue to have access to the absolute best care possible in settings designed specifically for children and delivered by health care professionals specifically trained in their needs. Whether a child requires open heart surgery, inpatient rehabilitation care following a serious injury or illness, or sophisticated imaging to determine the presence or absence of disease, Proposition 4 will play a vital role in ensuring kids have the health care they need when they need it.
There has been tremendous support of Proposition 4 from business and community organizations, leaders and parents of kids whose lives have been saved by a children’s hospital. Children’s hospitals spend bond money wisely and keep their promises to the California voters who support our efforts.
Potential uses of Proposition 4 funding at Valley Children’s include expansion and relocation of our inpatient pharmacy and laboratory to free up space for the construction of additional operating rooms, as well as upgrades and enhancements to patient care equipment, including digital radiography, MRI systems, nuclear medicine equipment, CT systems, and ultrasound machines.
Valley Children’s was the idea of five young mothers in the late 1940s. We opened our doors in 1952. Since then, we have been filled with gratitude knowing that all we have built here really belongs to the families and children we serve.
Proposition 4 is an investment in the collective heath of kids across California and here in our Valley. Please join me in voting yes on Proposition 4 this November.
Todd Suntrapak is president and chief executive officer at Valley Children’s Healthcare.