I was born in Blacksburg (don’t ask how long ago) and still have several family members who live there today. It was and is a great place with great people. Although I now live 30 miles away in Roanoke, I have always considered myself a “Blacksburg person” and always look forward to traveling in the New River Valley.
My connections to Blacksburg, Virginia Tech (a proud graduate and Hokie supporter), and the New River Valley underlie my concerns for the level of health care provided by its doctors and hospitals. I remember when LewisGale Hospital Montgomery was Montgomery Regional Hospital, in other words before the hospital located in Blacksburg was swallowed up by LewisGale Medical Center/Hospital Corporation of America. Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) is located in Nashville, TN and has facilities in over 20 states. HCA also bought what used to be called Pulaski Community Hospital (Pulaski, VA) and now called LewisGale Hospital Pulaski.
HCA is not the only large corporation “buying up” the hospitals in the New River Valley. Roanoke’s own Carilion Clinic now owns and/or manages what used to be Radford Community Hospital (now Carilion New River Valley Medical Center in Radford, VA); Giles Memorial Hospital (now Carilion Giles Memorial Hospital in Pearisburg, VA); and Tazewell Community Hospital (now Carilion Tazewell Community Hospital in Tazewell, VA). Carilion Clinic owns or manages 8 hospitals in western Virginia and employs over 600 physicians.
What bothers me is that I don’t think the medical care provided to the people of Blacksburg and the New River Valley has gotten any better since the big boys got involved. In fact, I think it may have gotten worse. The decisions by HCA and Carilion to buy up the smaller hospitals was driven by one motive and one motive alone – PROFIT – and not improved patient care.
And don’t try and tell me Carilion is “non-profit.” I was not born yesterday.