Letters to the Editor, Aug. 7 to 9

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Don’t cut cord on birthing center

EDITOR: The Sonoma Valley Hospital was built to serve all citizens of Sonoma, young and old. CEO Kelly Mather and the board of the hospital are on the path of taking those services away. The emergency room is not meant to be used for giving birth and putting the mother at risk. Our hospital has always had a Birthing Center. Mather and the board spent a lot of money on it.

I believe the public can make the SVH board reverse its decision of closing the Birthing Center.

There needs to be more interest paid by the citizens of Sonoma as to how badly their money is being managed by the board and Mather.

We have lost the Pink Ladies, the Gift Shop in the lobby, the Women’s Center on Perkins and now the Birthing Center.

Mather is allowed to spend money on extras and high salaries. Enough is enough. Let’s have a hospital that serves all the needs of our community.

Carolyn Stone


‘Do no harm’ – save obstetrics!

EDITOR: Sonoma Valley Hospital intends to close its obstetrics department (“Hospital May Cut Obstetrics, Skilled Nursing to Trim Costs,” July 17. This cannot happen. Such a move on the hospital’s part puts mothers and their babies at risk.

When physicians do not have privileges at a hospital, they leave. Sonoma Valley OB/GYN offices would close because obstetrics is a large part of their practice. Other factors leave pregnant women at risk as well. Sonoma is often geographically isolated when flooding occurs, recently traffic does the same. My own child is a case in point.

I woke to my 3-year-old crying from nightmares, and found myself in labor. We immediately left for the hospital. The weather was horrendous: everything was flooding, and reaching SVH proved difficult from our country location. I would later find out that all roads out of the Valley were obstructed by flooding and mudslides that night. At the hospital I was told by obstetrics staff I was not dilated much. I was in the “extra” delivery room, because there were five other births that night. The gynecologist had gone home, exhausted after delivering those five babies. In 20 minutes after arrival, my water broke and baby was coming! I had a precipitous birth process, where there is no transitional labor. Luckily, a nurse midwife was on obstetrics staff, she came into the room, put her hand on me, my entire body magically relaxed, and she delivered my baby.

Upon delivery, my baby stopped breathing. The emergency room physician was called, he didn’t know what to do and had the nurse midwife continue my baby’s care. She resuscitated my child. She later would tell me that my Hannah was her 50th birth and she was not going to lose her! All the techniques she used, she had learned as a specialty and the emergency room physician did not know the techniques!

If we had to go to another hospital for delivery, trying desperately to get out of the Valley when there was no exit, my child would have died on the side of the road. If there had been no obstetrics specialty staff, I would have lost my child because the obstetrician could not reach the hospital in time and the emergency physician on call did not have the specialty skills to save her life. Hannah is now a beautiful, vivacious young woman of 20, with all her life ahead of her because SVH had, on obstetric staff, a nurse-midwife.

Women’s services and obstetrics tends to lose money at every hospital, small or large. Women are traveling farther and farther to be able to give birth. Women’s services and obstetrics, whether they make money or not, must be maintained at geographically isolated hospitals, such as SVH, to ensure the safety of women and their babies. It is the humane thing to do. It is all too often that women are marginalized in our society, even in this day and age, as has become woefully apparent in the past year. If the hospital board eliminates obstetrics, there will be harm done. This is against the Hippocratic oath that every physician takes: to do no harm.

Anastasia Encarnacion


Put a plug in it!

EDITOR: Join us in protesting the proposed five years of annual 7.5 percent water-rate increases (“Sonoma City Council Eyes Water-Rate Hikes,” June 28).

Already we are paying 20 percent more than friends in Pleasant Hill for comparable quantities of water. We are curious how our rates compare with neighboring towns.

The proposed increase is justified by assuming annual inflation is more than double what is actually observed. The proposal assumes 3 to 8 percent per year. Whereas the consumer price index average of the past 10 years yields only 1.5 percent. The Federal Reserve aims for only 2 percent.

It is our understanding that the City is uncertain about the actual costs to deliver water and has resorted to using a “proportional cost” estimation method that has yet to be verified. Why are we being faced with a five-year set of increases before the actual costs are known? Why not do a single-year increase, then reassess the actual costs and needs before proceeding?

An inflated capital equipment budget offers five years of torn up streets with little real gain. Three quarters of this budget could possibly be omitted or reduced as follows:

Are the $1.7 million of fire safety water main enlargements proposed necessary? Cost effective? Bulldozers and aerial tankers stopped the big fires. Wouldn’t contracts with skilled local bulldozer operators make more sense? Aerial tankers are far more flexible at supplying fire retardants than limited fixed pipes. This item is 23 percent of the capital improvements and offers two years of torn up streets.

The $3.7 million of water main replacement is 50 percent of the capital budget. It offers three more years of torn up streets. Do the savings in possible water leakage justify the costs? Will service be improved at all? These replacements aren’t regarded as urgent as they are put off for several years in the proposal. Why not stretch these replacements out over a longer time frame, say 15 years? If it isn’t broken don’t fix it.

Protest the increases in writing to city hall before the Aug. 20 hearing. Include your name and street address. Consider attending the hearing.

John and Laura Dunning


Schocken Hill plan is not ‘affordable housing’

EDITOR: I was dismayed to learn last week that the City is being sued by developers who want to build three large homes on Schocken Hill (“Schocken Hill Developers to Sue City of Sonoma,” July 13). They argue that denying the approval to build these large homes is a violation of the Housing Accountability Act. This is deceptive because, according to the Housing Accountability Act, it is intended to “to address the imbalance in jobs and housing.” If the developers were really interested in the Housing Accountability Act they would be proposing higher density, moderately priced housing. Houses occupying 19,000-, 15,000- and 9,000-square-foot pads will do nothing to provide more affordable homes for people who live and work in Sonoma. The Institute for Local Government’s Regional Housing Needs Assessments directs cities to build affordable housing for the local work force. It’s frustrating to see so many of the residential lots in our city taken up by expensive vacation houses, second homes and retirement homes. We don’t need more luxury houses taking up scarce residential lots. The City Council should be pushing developers to provide affordable housing for local workers. We shouldn’t allow our view of the hillside to be spoiled with expensive housing for out-of-towners.

Matt Metzler


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