Guest opinion: For safety, we all must help reduce traffic
I was on call when my beeper alerted me to an emergency at Valley View Hospital. This is not an uncommon event for a pediatrician. The nurse was calling me about a pregnant women whose baby was in distress. I quickly gathered my belongings and rushed to the hospital.
On my arrival, I was met by others including an anesthesiologist, an obstetrician and other clinical team members who had also rushed in from their homes. We quickly assessed the situation and the woman was taken in for an emergency Cesarean section. Fortunately, due to the promptness and skill of the entire team, a healthy baby boy was born.
This event caused me to contemplate not about my job as a pediatrician, but rather about my job as chief medical officer of Valley View. Emergencies happen every day. People have heart attacks, motor vehicle accidents occur and babies are born on the way to the hospital. Medical emergencies are part of life. Patients and health-care teams rush to the hospital every day to care for these patients. In fact, in our community, not a second thought is given to the idea that within minutes of experiencing an emergency, a skilled ambulance crew will deliver you to a team of highly trained health-care professionals waiting to care for you at Valley View Hospital.
Emergency response is a core safety feature of our health-care system and something we all will likely depend upon at some point in our lives. Unfortunately, in the near future, the functioning of this core feature will be challenged. On Aug. 14, our faithful but crumbling Grand Avenue bridge will be torn down and not fully replaced for 95 days. This will critically limit traffic flow in and out of the city in all directions. We have been told that if we do not reduce traffic by 35 percent, complete gridlock will occur. This will affect the ability to get critically ill patients and essential health-care professionals to the hospital.
As a community, we must come together to mitigate this potential health-care crisis. We must decrease traffic. This is not simply about the inconvenience of long delays in dropping off your child for school or leaving early to get home for dinner. It is about not letting your family member, your neighbor or your community be harmed by gridlock.
Valley View Hospital has pledged a 40 percent reduction in its employee traffic during this critical time by making schedule changes, promoting off-site work locations, working from home, carpooling and riding RFTA. We are grateful to other employers, such as Holy Cross and Gould Construction, that are making other commitments. We call on every employer, both locally and downvalley, to have an organized plan to support their employees during the closure. Yet this is far from enough to impact the entire situation.
We also need every family to sit down and decide how they will change at home to protect this community. Spouses and older children should decide how they will carpool, bike or walk. Families with two cars need to leave one car at home.
Please remember hope is not a plan. The time has come for action.
Soon I will be on call again. I will leave my desk as chief medical officer and shift back to being a pediatrician. I will once again focus on safety and prevention. I will offer vaccines, recommend healthy nutrition and encourage exercise. And now for the safety of our entire community, I will suggest carpooling, bike riding and walking to work to protect all of our valley’s residents and visitors.
David Brooks, M.D., is the chief medical officer for Valley View Hospital and also serves patients as a pediatrician with Pediatric Partners.
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