By Bob Diehl

Providing Calaveras County residents with access to compassionate, high-quality health care has always been Dignity Health’s highest priority. That’s why we were thrilled with the Mark Twain Health Care District Board’s unanimous vote on Wednesday, January 24 to agree upon a new lease to ensure that Dignity Health will remain affiliated with Mark Twain Medical Center.

Dignity Health has been affiliated with Mark Twain Medical Center since 1989 and during that time, our partnership has stabilized health care in the region, while also growing the hospital through the incorporation of telemedicine, new facilities and additional specialties.

Mark Twain Medical Center has gone from the brink of bankruptcy to ranking among the top 21 rural hospitals nationally for quality and patient safety. At a time when many rural counties are losing their local hospitals and health care services entirely, Dignity Health and Mark Twain Medical Center have ensured ongoing access to care for all those in Calaveras County.

As a community we are profoundly grateful to the Health Care District Board for voting to continue this important affiliation. Throughout this process, the Health Care District Board has remained dedicated to doing what is right for the people of Calaveras County and their due diligence laid the foundation for a thoughtful decision.

We hope you join us and take the opportunity to recognize and thank the Health Care District Board members for their selfless and dedicated service to the people of Calaveras County during this critical time of deliberation and decision making.

The Health Care District Board’s commitment to the future of Mark Twain Medical Center makes the unanimous vote even more impactful because we know the Health Care District Board carefully explored and evaluated every option before making its decision.

Calaveras County residents are fortunate to have a Health Care District Board so invested in their future health and wellbeing. I look forward to a positive relationship between the Health Care District Board, Dignity Health and Mark Twain Medical Center for years to come.

As we look to the future, we will seek to move forward with our plans for clinic expansions to increase compassionate access to care for all patients, regardless of their ability to pay. We will strive to continue incorporating innovative technologies into health care to better serve our patients. We will also continue our focus on physician development, retention and recruitment to make sure the very best doctors are on hand to provide the very best care.

We will maintain and enhance our commitment to be community stewards. We have invested more than $15 million last year alone in community benefits to support local health programs to date, and that number will continue to grow annually, through our grant programs, health clinics, teddy bear clinic and other important local health programs. And we look forward to partnering with the Health Care District Board on several community health projects under consideration in the spirit of the collaboration of the continued affiliation.

But before we can do all of this, we have one more step to take — and we need your help. On June 5, the public will have an opportunity to vote to formally approve this affiliation to continue the important work of Dignity Health and Mark Twain Medical Center. We come to work each day at the hospital with enthusiasm for our core mission of enhancing health and quality of life. We believe Calaveras County residents recognize this commitment and will express their support for this successful affiliation at the ballot box. I’ll see you there.

Bob Diehl is president of Mark Twain Medical Center.