In the September 2008 issue of Smart
Business, this column discussed scores of
health issues facing California’s 9.4 million children, a good percentage of whom are
uninsured or underinsured. We presented
alarming statistics skyrocketing numbers
of children with obesity, asthma, diabetes,
lack of immunization and other health issues
reaching a crisis. Without resolution, children, families and communities suffer. And
employers lack a healthy work force needed
to compete in tomorrow’s marketplace.
One solution is on the November ballot. It’s
Proposition 3: The Children’s Hospital Bond
Act of 2008, which authorizes millions of dollars in expenditures to improve California’s
children’s hospitals and purchase new medical technology and equipment to care for the
state’s seriously ill and injured children.
Smart Business spoke to Barry Arbuckle,
Ph.D., president and CEO of MemorialCare
Medical Centers and chair of California
Hospital Association, to learn more.
Why are children’s hospitals so important?
California’s eight certified, not-for-profit
children’s hospitals and five University of
California children’s hospitals treat more
than 1 million children’s injuries and illnesses
each year. These children face life threatening diseases like leukemia, cancer, heart
defects, sickle cell anemia, diabetes, cystic
fibrosis and countless rare conditions.
Children’s hospitals provide 88 percent of the
inpatient care for children requiring heart
surgery, 97 percent of surgery for children
needing organ transplants and 71 percent of
inpatient care for children with cancer. These
children’s hospitals also provide preventive
health care services throughout the state.
At children’s hospitals, hundreds of children are cured or have their young lives
extended for many years. Specialists help to
improve the quality of kids’ lives, helping
them stay at home and in school. Today,
almost 90 percent of children born with heart
defects can be cured or helped considerably
with surgery. And the survival rate of children
with leukemia is 80 percent.
While community hospitals may have
pediatric beds, it is children’s hospitals
whose entire staffs have specialized training,
knowledge and experience in treating kids.
California’s children’s hospitals are among
the nation’s premier pediatric research centers and the source of scientific discoveries
that benefit children around the globe, not
just those treated at their facilities. When it
comes to a child’s health, there’s no better
place than a children’s hospital with specialists dedicated exclusively to the comprehensive, unsurpassed care of children.
Do children’s hospitals care for all children?
Children’s hospitals treat seriously injured
and ill infants and children, without regard
for a family’s income or ability to pay from
the most fragile premature newborns with
challenging health needs to older teens coping with cancer. As our population grows, so
must our children’s hospitals. More children
require the services of children’s hospitals
than current capacity can accommodate.
In earlier issues of this magazine, we
described many other challenges facing
California hospitals including unfunded
mandates like seismic regulations requiring
hospitals to spend millions upon millions to
meet stringent retrofit requirements.
Can you describe Proposition 3?
Proposition 3 authorizes $980 million to
improve and expand California’s children’s
hospitals and purchase new technology for
treating seriously ill and injured children.
Eligible regional, not-for-profit children’s
hospitals will be able to apply for grants of
up to $98 million. University of California
children’s hospitals would each be eligible to
receive approximately $39 million. The division of funds is proportional to the number
of patients seen. Eligible children’s hospitals
must meet specific criteria, have at least 160
licensed pediatric beds and 30,000 annual
pediatric patient days.
What’s the cost to Californians?
Proposition 3 does not raise taxes, it saves
lives. It gives the sickest children in
California the chance for a better life. The
cost of Proposition 3 is less than one-tenth of
1 percent of the state’s annual budget, and it
enables California’s children’s hospitals to
provide leading-edge pediatric care for
generations to come. With this capital investment in facilities and medical technology,
children’s hospitals will be better prepared
to meet the needs of California’s rapidly
expanding pediatric population, which the
state projects to grow by 35 percent during
the next two decades.
As the father of four children who began
his career teaching child development and
has been involved in children’s health care
for more than two decades, I know how
important Proposition 3 is.
Children’s hospitals don’t have the space to
handle the growing number of seriously ill
and injured children who are referred to
us every day. Proposition 3 funds will help
children’s hospitals build additional bed
capacity and purchase essential technology
and equipment to ensure all of California’s
children can access the best care available.
The bonds are an investment in millions of
children whose lives are entrusted to the
care of our children’s hospitals.
BARRY ARBUCKLE, Ph.D., is president and CEO of MemorialCare Medical Centers (www.memorialcare.org) and chair of the California
Hospital Association. Reach him at [email protected] or (562) 933-9708. MemorialCare Medical Centers include Saddleback
Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills and San Clemente, Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley, Anaheim
Memorial Medical Center, Long Beach Memorial Medical Center and Miller Children’s Hospital in Long Beach.