Editorial: St. Charles-BMC cooperation reassuring

For those who remember the bad old days of conflict between St. Charles Health System and Bend Memorial Clinic, the joint effort to save the life of Bend pastor Dan Dillard was particularly heartening.

As reporter Markian Hawryluk detailed in Friday’s Bulletin, hundreds of medical professionals cooperated to provide cutting-edge care to Dillard after he was critically injured in an Aug. 31 motorcycle accident. Dr. Wayne Nelson, a physician recruited jointly by the hospital and clinic, provided aortic surgery unavailable in Bend until he arrived in July. Specialists in multiple disciplines from a variety of practices assisted in Dillard’s care.

It was a dramatic demonstration of the improved climate in Bend’s health care community.

Growing tension between the two health care facilities burst into public awareness in 2008 and 2009 as the once-collegial relationship turned competitive. Growing costs and shrinking reimbursements from government programs drove competition that divided physicians and threatened to affect patient care.

But a dramatic change became evident in 2011 when BMC’s new CEO, Greg Hagfors, changed the tone and got immediate positive response. Communication was enhanced as well by the Central Oregon Health Council’s work on health reform.

Multiple challenges are ahead for health care, and goodwill alone won’t solve them. But it’s a critical component, and it’s reassuring to see it so amply demonstrated.