West Michigan health care industry needs community oversight


The situation in Grand Haven with the Health Pointe development by Spectrum Health and Holland Hospital in the backyard of the North Ottawa Community Health System is a clear indicator that the health care industry needs community oversight.

Independent organizations that focus on all health care providers in the region — like the former nonprofit Alliance for Health, which was disbanded by its board last spring — offer a big-picture analysis of health care on the community level.

Without such an organization, the local community is cut off from meaningful knowledge of major happenings in health care until they are a fait accompli. The one neutral organization that could convene competitors around a common task is gone. Effective refereeing of the health care providers by a neutral community body is gone, and the providers simply don’t play well in the sandbox with each other.

There are many things happening in health care that should generate interest among the population and especially among the business community. Those who pay for care obviously pay for treatment, but they also pay the costs for shenanigans by the health care folks.

Who provides oversight? Who referees the sandbox? Who calls bad behavior to the community’s attention? Frankly, no one anymore.

Several years ago, a major study of community attitudes was undertaken by the Alliance for Health. This provided a blueprint for its organizational improvement. One finding simply concluded that if there was no Alliance for Health, the community would have to create one.

Unfortunately, the larger-than-ever powers that be simply do not want any vestige of community oversight.

So who will create the new organization?

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