Sound Off: Closing Navy ER is for the best

This letter is in response to the recent article (News-Times, Aug. 8) regarding the imminent transition from E/R to Urgent Care facility with reduced hours.

I was appalled by the scare tactic sensationalism engendered by the article. The article implied abandonment of care when in reality the plan will expedite care for our patients. The transition will actually be a good thing for patients.

Naval Hospital Oak Harbor does not have ICU, NICU or trauma capability. Patients should be triaged at a facility with these capabilities in order to not delay health care. Naval Hospital Oak Harbor does not have in house physicians. The turn around time for the surgical team is 30 minutes. The Naval Hospital does not have advanced diagnostics such as MRI. Being seen in a facility with these services will cause patients to be seen in a timely manner at the facility where care can be continued. Transfers and delay of care for actual emergencies should be eliminated. Time to treatment is a huge factor in outcome. I applaud Capt. Chinn in his astute recognition of the need for patient care to be expedited at a facility that can provide correct continuity of services.

Patients experiencing what they feel is an emergency should NOT report to Naval Hospital Oak Harbor. They should call 911 or report to the closest Emergency Room. Emergency care is covered by Tricare.

Patients experiencing trauma, severe abdominal pain or heavy bleeding, chest pain or shortness of breath need emergency care. Pregnant patients experiencing any abdominal pain or bleeding prior to the twentieth week of pregnancy need ER evaluation and should call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. Naval Hospital Oak Harbor pregnant patients greater than 20 weeks gestation experiencing bleeding, abdominal pain, regular uterine contractions at a rate of more than four an hour or mental or visual changes such as confusion, severe headache, lights or spots before your eyes or blurred vision or edema in the hands or face or pain under the right rib cage should call Labor and Delivery at 360-257-9777 and speak to a nurse about where and when to be seen for the above emergent conditions.

I believe the goal of Naval Hospital Oak Harbor is to make sure our naval personnel and their dependents receive the best possible care in an expeditious manner. This small rural hospital with skeletal staff and services cannot support an Emergency Room. Recognition and acting on this fact will only improve care for our patients.

Karen McCallum is Clinical Nurse Manger WHC, Naval Hospital Oak Harbor.

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