Back in the 1950s when a police officer was shot and lay dying, we had no hospital to rush him to. The incident helped galvanize the community to build a hospital. We called it South Coast Community Hospital. The key word, of course, was and is, community.
Residents chipped in. Some gave pennies. Some gave thousands. Pete Peterman who lived in the canyon threw together a spaghetti dinner which he cooked himself for hundreds and sold for $2 a plate. He gave all the money to the hospital building fund.
That is how a community hospital gets built. When you phoned the hospital, a cheery voice would chirp: “South Coast Community…how may I help you?”
Eventually the hospital was sold to Adventist which permitted the plant to deteriorate. When Mission took over the hospital from Adventist, the word “community” was waylaid. The Mission people held a meeting to hear comments from residents. I suggested the name include the word community. Mission Community Hospital of Laguna Beach. “Community” did not make the final cut.
I do not denigrate Mission and its excellent emergency room. I do not argue with the efficient lab where I go for blood draws. But I expect more. I think back to that wounded cop and how the city responded when he died. We built a community hospital.
So today we are stuck with a hospital that is not a community hospital, but a corporate hospital. It calls itself a non-profit, but you could have fooled me. As you know Mission now owns eight acres of land the city and the Laguna Canyon Foundation wanted to buy for open space. When Mission learned of the pending deal it rushed in a bid of its own.
Strange behavior for an institution who came into town billing themselves as a good neighbor.
I do not want to see valuable land whittled away, chaparral destroyed, open space strangled. That’s what land rapists do. Not a hospital. We wanted open space, room to breathe, room free of clutter, room to connect to hiking trails. Mission wanted property.
I feel duped. Mission was riding to the rescue. Does this not remind you of another banner unfurled, another boast of good tiding?
I believed in Mission.Then it revealed its corporate soul.
Arnold Hano, Laguna Beach
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