Dismissal bad timing for Movin' Mountains

The Central Oregon health care businesses has been in major transition this past year. St. Charles now owns and operates all the hospitals in Madras, Prineville, Redmond and Bend. One offshoot of that: plenty of consolidation.

That has meant good people losing good jobs.

But for an organization struggling with its image after taking over the Madras hospital in 2013, the timing of its most recent personnel change was not good. Beth Ann Beamer, who had led Mountain View's Community Health Improvement Partnership for the past seven years, was let go last week, just as she was in the midst of organizing the fifth annual Movin' Mountains.

The move was apparently St. Charles' latest step in consolidating duties within its organization. Apparently St. Charles feels its existing community health organization can handle the Madras-area's community health program management workload.

Now, the hospital organization isn't letting people go because they don't like people; they're doing it out of economic/business reasons. And they aren't just cutting from the middle or bottom, but also from the top. They recently let go their second and third top administrators, including former Mountain View Administrator Jay Henry. They recently appointed the administrator at the Madras facility, Jeannie Gentry, to also be the administrator of Prineville's hospital.

Don't think the very highest ranking employees haven't felt the sting of change.

But back to bad timing and Movin' Mountains.

Movin' Mountains was a community event that about 300 or more people took part in each year. Husbands and wives, friends and co-workers, joined together to start the new year off by getting healthier by losing love handles and beer bellies, and hopefully change their consumption and exercise lifestyles in the process.

But it wasn't just a weight-loss contest. Movin' Mountain had weekly events, educational classes and free exercise programs arranged for participants throughout its four-month run. It was an ambitious effort that made a big impact. For every person who entered, there were probably three or four who were living healthier to support them. It was a fun, popular, excellent community health program, by any definition, successful.

But Movin' Mountains is also an example that it isn't institutions that make the program, it is the people within those institutions. Movin' Mountains was, at its core, the work and ideas of Beamer and Carolyn Harvey, who started her involvement while with the Jefferson County Health Department and has continued even after leaving the department. The Warm Springs Health and Wellness Program has been key in running the Warm Springs elements of the countywide event, but the primary duo behind the event, from concept to program arrangement, has been Beamer and Harvey. They deserve the lion's share of credit for making Movin' Mountains what it is. And the initial 2010 event was taken from a small program which Beamer herself had designed.

After being told of Beamer being let go, Harvey said she has no interest in continuing on, at this point. As for now, the 2014 countywide event is not happening, though Warm Springs will have a program.

But before the St. Charles bashing resumes in full, we need to remember something: St. Charles is running our hospital. When the Mountain View Hospital Board decided to essentially give the facility to St. Charles, it did so as a last resort. The financials told them that the locally owned and operated hospital would not be economically sustainable. Prineville's local hospital leaders made the same decision.

It is for the good of our community that St. Charles Madras succeeds. It's been a tough first year, but I'm hopeful it can resurrect its image in Madras and Jefferson County. One way it can is to find a way to keep Movin' Mountains, or something similar, alive. It doesn't have to be a January to May program, or copy Movin' Mountains in every way, but the concept is something the hospital's community health program should be championing.

In this latest consolidation move, hopefully St. Charles is indeed taking over community health and not slowly eliminating it. Beamer's work, by herself or in partnerships, in Movin' Mountains and a variety of other programs, was too value for that to happen.




Local Weather

Light Rain

47°F

Madras

Light Rain

Humidity: 90%

Wind: 15 mph

  • 20 Dec 2014

    Showers 48°F 47°F

  • 21 Dec 2014

    Showers 48°F 37°F