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Opinion: Farewell, MCH

We had a brief respite from all the rain that has fallen on Madera this week. The air smells clean and my tiny backyard is covered in leaves knocked off the shrubs by days of hard rain.

The older I get, the less I like driving at night. My mother and her parents always had to get home before dark. In my younger days, I scribed to the theory that the fun never begins until after it is dark.

Not that I’m in my mid-sixties I’ve discovered that things look different in the dark. Formerly familiar routes aren’t like I remember them at night.

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The loss of Madera Community Hospital is such a community tragedy. But it is also a personal blow because, as always, it’s all about me.

I would venture to say that since it opened, I have spent four, maybe five months or more as an inpatient. I’ve had hundreds of tests run as an outpatient.

I cruised the hospital parking lot Tuesday evening. Seeing the ghost of the sign on the once-proud building facade is heartbreaking. The Red and Nancy Arnold commemorative sign is still up in all its forlorn glory. All those cries of anguish you hear in the background are the many people who have passed on that put so much of their lifeblood and energy into ensuring their hometown had a state-of-the-art medical center.

Before MCH, Madera had smaller hospitals. I remember mom working at the Dearborn, the Sanitarium and Madera County hospitals. These facilities served the needs of our residents, but, as Madera grew, they were deemed inadequate. A new hospital was constructed on a donated parcel large enough for it to expand. Built by local contractors with locally sourced building supplies, they used the best material available. Much of the services were contributed, with the MCH Foundation ultimately shouldering the responsibility for its ongoing fundraising.

Business people, doctors, nurses and other local citizens took pride in building Madera a proper hospital. A brand new hospital for all of Madera County to be proud of.

Our legendary doctors, Robert Froeschle, Theodore Johnstone, Donald Massey, Gary Olsen, James Walters, Robert Rowe, Thomas Klein, William Hawkins and many more, tended to the health and well-being of Maderans.

Both my mother, QuoVada “Kirk” Hill, and my mother-in-law, Anne “Walker” Nix, were great admirers of Dr. Froeschle.

When my grandmother, Lilli Mae “Hawkins” Kirk, died, QuoVada was relieved Dr. Froeschle was her attending physician. Having been his nurse, Mom knew how hard Dr. Froeschle worked when a patient was slipping away.

My mother-in-law Anne had a bout with stomach cancer, and Dr. Froeschle saved her life.

She and my husband were grateful to Froeschle for the rest of his life.

I hope it is not too late to revive and rescue MCH. A huge medical conglomerate like Darin M. Camerena Health Centers could save it. I can only assume profound financial responsibilities were not honored. Both the state, Medicare, Medicaid and uninsured patients are the reason MCH became insolvent.

I know the staff worked diligently to keep the hospital alive, but COVID-19 was just one too many medical crises for MCH to handle.

I’m not too fond of the Kaiser Medical Group rescuing MCH. I fear, with Kaiser, I will need to get an entirely new staff of doctors.

Outside of DMCHC and a few others, my doctors already practice in Fresno.

I’m too old to get comfortable with a bunch of new doctors. Until the doctors I see retire or die, I am sticking with them.

Long days and pleasant nights, have a blessed weekend.

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Readers may contact Tami Jo Nix by emailing or following @TamiJoNix on Twitter.


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